The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Is this the American Church’s most powerful woman?

A tweet from a certain blogger suggested as much. Check out this profile of the woman who is, the COO of the Miami Church:

Doing one thing at a time does not seem to be part of God’s plan for Sister Elizabeth Worley.


A few years into her teaching career as a Sister of St. Joseph, the Jacksonville native went back to school to get a degree in chemistry.

“I did sophomore, junior and senior chemistry courses in one year simultaneously,” recalled Sister Worley, who got her degree from Barry University in 1973.

A decade later, when she was asked to join the board of directors of Mercy Hospital in Miami, which is sponsored by her community, she decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in business administration.

She began the two-and-a-half year program while teaching chemistry at Hollywood’s Madonna High School and completed it while serving as chair of Mercy’s board — and still graduated as valedictorian of her class at the University of Miami. The salutatorian, she says, likes to tell people that he graduated “second to nun.”


Nearly 20 years later, Sister Worley was again doing two jobs at once: Finishing up her 19-year stint as chair of Mercy’s board and beginning a two-year stretch as chief executive officer of Catholic Hospice.

She was still with hospice when Bishop Thomas Wenski called from Orlando and asked her to serve as his chancellor for administration and chief operating officer. She started the job in February 2007 but remained with hospice until a new chief operating officer was appointed.

“The turnpike and I were old friends,” she said, recalling how she went back and forth between Miami and Orlando “every other week.”

The intrastate commute continued this summer. On July 15, Archbishop Wenski announced her appointment as chancellor for administration and chief operating officer for the Archdiocese of Miami — but her duties in Orlando ended Sept. 30.


“I tended to do this in my lifetime,” she said. “God calls. You answer. Literally, it just keeps coming. There’s a need. You respond to the need. It’s service of Church. It’s obedience.”

Read the rest. Impressive gal. Very impressive.

Comments read comments(7)
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posted November 2, 2010 at 8:38 am

Ho-hum … says Disney’s “Sleepy”

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chaddie waddie

posted November 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

wow, this was a lame article. 1 minute of my life i’ll never get back.

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posted November 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm

How in the world does this make her the most powerful woman? Most powerful where? when? how? This is a crazy heading on a story that is nice; but give me a break in this person having any power outside her local parish.

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posted November 2, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I’d agree that the headline of this post is confusing – the Church’s most powerful woman? But, certainly you must admit that she has quite a lot of power “outside her local parish.” For pete’s sake! Among other things, she was chancellor for administration and chief operating officer for the Archdiocese of Miami!
This was a nice article about a dedicated woman who has had an impressive career and vocation. I don’t see what was so lame, ho hum or crazy about it.

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posted November 3, 2010 at 9:21 am

You could hear the church bells pealing during the end of an “Elizabethan era” in the diocese of Orlando. Tweedle dee, tweedle dum – her and Wenski. Good riddance.

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posted November 4, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Why are “The Deacon’s Bench” articles the only ones linked on I like them for the most part, but the very headline itself is RCC-centric. “[T}he American Church” means here “The American Roman Catholic Church.” You must know a wider audience is reading these articles. I know that the official RCC position is that they ARE the only complete/whole/universal church, but the term “church” has a distinctly different meaning in broader Christian circles, and even most Catholics concede that other churches just might be churches.
Taking a logical reading of the headline, the average Christian might be guessing the subject might be anyone from Pentecostal TV preachers Joyce Meyer or Paula White, to Baptist Bible Study “gurus” Kay Arthur or Beth Moore, to public policy leaders Shirley Dobson or Janet Parshall. Maybe a politician like Sarah Palin? Maybe a behind-the-scenes leader of an influential movement or organization?
But the COO of a Catholic Diocese? She’s an administrator working under the leadership of the Archbishop (right?) of Miami. She may well be the most powerful woman in the Roman Catholic church in America, but not the American Church (at large).

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posted November 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I agree with those commenting on the mis-leading, if not down-right erroneous header to this article. While not wishing to diminish the
out-standing accomplishments of this particular woman..what exactly is
the American Church? There are those who might see this as an affirmation of the progressives who want the Catholic Church here in the United States to be less “popish” and more independent from Rome..the same group “pumping” for women priests in the hierarchy. Stange head-line indeed!

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