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Testigos
Dermis de Jesús
Member, Philadelphia Phoebe Circle and Parishioner, St. Vincent de Paul Church (Philadelphia, PA)
July 2, 2024

Mary, our Blessed Mother, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters; Veronica (from the Catholic tradition), Mary Magdalene…these are women whose stories I have heard and some that I have proclaimed since my early years as a confirmed Catholic.  These are women in whom I have seen pieces of myself throughout my development as a devout Catholic. These are saints who have inspired my spiritual journey along with those closer to my times, like Mother Teresa and the Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman.

I, however, had not sat with the words in Romans 16; 1-2, until I attended prayer services with Discerning Deacons:

“I commend to you our sister…receive her in the Lord…for she has been a benefactor to many…”

I felt a recognition of these words deep in my being. I thought of the Phoebes in my life:  my grandmother Isabel, my religion teachers- lay and nuns; my mentors in youth groups, my role models in young adult ministries; the mothers of the Church in my Germantown, Philadelphia parish; my own mother, and then I even dared to look at myself. 

I find joy in service as something that I am called to do, whether I am interpreting, proclaiming, praising in song and dance, teaching or offering reflections; distributing communion, visiting the sick, supporting individuals in mental health crisis and women confronting abuse; counseling parents of neurodivergent children or holding and feeding babies in the intensive care nursery. I just want to be of service, taking Jesus to everyone and encountering Jesus in everyone, for the glory of God, and in gratitude for what God has done in me. 

Therefore I march on, celebrating St. Phoebe and discerning diakonía, locally and nationally, with many more like me, for many more like me, guided by the Holy Trinity. We are serving the discernment, listening, rethinking, imagining, hoping, praying, doing…for a Church that truly welcomes everyone who surrenders to God’s love. 

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Organization
“Our St. Phoebe Day celebration was a Catholic mass at its best—coming together, unified at the Eucharistic table, getting nourished through meaningful ritual, prayerful and relevant songs, a challenging message on synodality from scripture, and engaging and honest testimonies from two women in our community. St. Joan of Arc parish today did what Jesus did years ago—fed souls and gave people hope.”
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community
Minneapolis, MN
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Organization
“Together, we are grateful that the ministry and example of St. Phoebe enlivens our community to participate in exploring the unique gifts of women in our faith community. Here at Cranaleith, we feel strongly about creating space for all those seeking wholeness and transformation for themselves, their communities and society. This retreat was an opportunity for us to do just that.”
Centro Espiritual Cranaleith
Philadelphia, PA
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Organization
“The icon of St. Phoebe is still present in our Chapel today, where we are able to remember her witness and ask her to intercede on our behalf.”
Rosemont College
Rosemont, PA

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