In September 1893, Catholic laypeople, clergy, and prelates met at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago as the Columbian Catholic Congress to discuss their church's history and chart its course into the future. The leadership of Catholic laywomen in shaping the course of the Congress has been virtually absent in scholarship, much as it was hidden from contemporaries in the past. The act of a Catholic woman speaking among both men and women in a public space was significant, as it demonstrated an increasing assertiveness on the part of Catholic women, including those holding to a conception of gendered, separate spheres, that women had key roles to play in shaping public Catholicity and Catholics’ ideas about their own community of faith. A core group of Catholic women played a hitherto underappreciated part in bringing the Congress to life. This study therefore centers women in the history of, more narrowly, Catholicism's place at the World's Columbian Exposition and, more broadly, the Catholic public of the early Progressive Era, and demonstrates the often-invisible labor in which women engaged to develop their church's intellectual life in the early Progressive Era.