Negotiating sacred roles: a sociological exploration of priests who are mothers

Sarah-Jane Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1992, in a historic move, the Church of England voted to allow women's ordination to priesthood and in 1994 the first women priests started to be ordained. Despite much research interest, the experiences of priests who are mothers to dependent children have been minimally investigated. Based on in-depth interviews with seventeen mothers ordained in the Church, this paper will focus on how the sacred-profane boundary is managed. Priests who are mothers have a particular insight into the Church hierarchy as they symbolically straddle the competing discourses of sacred and profane. However, instead of reifying these binaries, the experiences of these women show how such dualisms are challenged and managed in everyday life. Indeed, in terms of experience, ritual, ministry and preaching, priests who are mothers are resisting, recasting and renegotiating sacred terrain in subtle and nuanced ways. Mothers thus not only negotiate the practical and sacramental demands placed on priests, but also illuminate how the sacred domain is regulated and constructed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-109
Number of pages18
JournalFeminist Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Feminist review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Page, S 2011, 'Negotiating sacred roles: a sociological exploration of priests who are mothers', Feminist review, vol 97, no. 1, pp. 92-109 is available online at:


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