Women of Faith

Women of the Catholic Church Speak

A film by Rebecca M. Alvin

2009 | 60 minutes | Color/BW | DVD | Order No. 10997


This absorbing documentary examines women’s decisions to lead religious lives in the Roman Catholic tradition in the post-feminist era. Throughout history, nuns were given certain advantages over other women, while still oppressed within their vocational pursuits. They were taught to read and write, encouraged to pursue music, literature, art, philosophy and spirituality, and officially allowed to escape marriage’s powerless role of wife. But why would a woman choose a nun’s life today?

Individual interviews with seven women provide answers—and explore how rebellion can happen within and outside the Church, how women in the Church reconcile conflicting, religious, personal, and political beliefs, and how they view official Church positions on contraception, homosexuality, and women’s ordination as priests. The diverse group includes Poor Clares, contemplative nuns who spend most of their days in prayer, Maryknolls who have served in Central America, and a Roman Catholic Womanpriest. Both timely and insightful, the film provides a rare look at their experiences and current controversies over tradition, change and power within the Catholic Church.


"Thoughtful and provocative…Reveals the diversity of the ways in which women engage and grapple with the issues prevalent in the church today."

Dr. Jeana Del Rosso Author, “Writing Catholic Women"

"Provides rare insight into the history and development of women religious in this country. Students of women's history, church history, and pastoral ministries will all be fascinated by this film."

Kathleen Schatzberg President, Cape Cod Community College

“Dispels any notion that nuns just blindly accept and follow the dictates of the Roman Catholic Church. Alvin gives us an insider's view of their lives, their opinions, their approach to religion and faith.”

Tim Miller The Cape Cod Times

“An intimate encounter with women who lived in cloistered communities and the ways they are called to serve.”

Dr. Deborah Vess Prof of History & Interdisciplinary Studies, Georgia College & State University

"A must-see for anyone who cares about the Church and its future."

Robert O'Toole NOVA Catholic Community

“Recommended…an interesting study…for those interested in religious studies, women’s studies, feminist issues and Catholic studies. It may easily be used in high school classrooms and higher.”



Video Librarian

"It can be a useful tool in the feminist classroom for understanding not only where women fit in the Catholic Church, but how they act and claim their personhood within a hierarchal institution."

Films for the Feminist Classroom


  • Queens Int’l Film Festival
  • Woods Hole Film Festival
  • Cape Cod Museum of Art
  • Boston Museum of Art
  • Call to Action Conference
  • Cape Ann Community Cinema
  • DoctoberFest


Rebecca M. Alvin

Rebecca M. Alvin, a native New Yorker, originally worked towards a career in music, studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, when she got sidetracked with a Film Scoring major at that same institution. This major led to a Filmmaking major at Emerson College in Boston and eventually to her intensely personal student film, UNTITLED (NO.1) which won finalist honors at the 1994 Visual Artists Film & Video Competition in San Jose, CA. Rebecca moved on to edit and produce numerous corporate and medical tapes in New York, before returning to more creative pursuits with the 1996 film, VOICES, which screened at the Utah Short Film & Video Festival.

Her first documentary, OUR BODIES, OUR MINDS, a feature-length exploration of feminism and sex work, premiered in 2001 at the 20th Annual Women in the Director's Chair International Film & Video Festival in Chicago and went on to screen worldwide. Shortly after that, Rebecca completed her MA in Media Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York City and relocated to Cape Cod in 2000. After completing a tribute documentary about Broadway actress Rose Inghram, (commissioned by the Rose Inghram Trust), she began work on WOMEN OF FAITH, a film about women and the Catholic Church. Alvin teaches film at The New School, Curry College, and Cape Cod Community College and writes for numerous publications, including Cineaste and the Journal of Film and Video. She is also editor of Provincetown Magazine and founder of the Cape Cod Film Society Screening Series. (01/20)

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