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Testigos
Helen Oesterle
Pastoral Associate, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Seattle, WA
May 1, 2024

Growing up as a girl in the Catholic Church was complicated. I loved my Catholic faith, but it was hard for me to see my brothers being altar servers but not me. As I grew up and began to feel a sense of vocation in my life, the only option I could consider was to be a religious sister—and that definitely wasn’t the right choice for me. So I pursued a career in wildlife and environmental science, but even with a Masters’ degree, wasn’t able to find a job in that field.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Holy Spirit still had plans for me to serve the Church. Fr. Mallahan, Pastor at Holy Rosary, asked me to start a youth ministry program at the parish. Since I had several years of experience working with Youth Conservation Corps, I said yes. That was over 42 years ago and, in that time, I discovered that there are ways I, as a woman, wife and mother, can minister in the Church in a leadership capacity. It hasn’t been easy and at times I have had similar situations like Jeremiah where I felt God duped me and wondered why I should stay. But I have learned that I am also called to be a witness to other women who are discerning their own calls to serve the Church, often in ways that are not currently possible including the diaconate. This happened through encounters with professors, pastors and primarily parishioners. Over the years I have been told many times that I would make a great priest. In fact, at one parish, several older men over coffee and donuts told me that until they met me, they never thought God would call women to be priests.

Now, of course, that is not possible and I have made peace with that limitation in my life. But maybe I can be part of helping others see that God’s plans might be different from what they expect. Imagine what we, the Church, would be like if we truly listened to the stories of all its members—men, women, children and youth, the poor and marginalized from every corner of the world, and then responded with open minds and hearts, making the changes required so our Church, individually and communally, can think as God thinks!

Pope Francis, in convening the global Synod last year, said “…it is intended to inspire people to dream about the Church we are called to be, to make people’s hope flourish, to stimulate trust, to bind up wounds, to weave new and deeper relationships, to learn from one another, to build bridges, to enlighten minds, warm hearts, and restore strength to our hands for our common mission.” Let us call upon the intercession of St. Phoebe, St. Paul and St. Peter as we, individually and as the larger Church, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in renewing and transforming us to walk together as faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

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Organization
“We raised so much awareness from our event, of both the ongoing Synod and of St. Phoebe and her ministry. Together, we learned of the power of the intercession of St. Phoebe, and how significant her feast day can be to carry the message of women’s roles in the Church.”
The Church of St. Francis Xavier
New York, NY
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Organization
“The most meaningful parts of our celebration together included a standing ovation following the witness reflection, the power and strength of the reflection itself, and the procession at the start of mass. In the procession, young women carried in and presented symbols of St. Phoebe including an icon, the commission of St. Paul, a deacon’s stole and a pitcher of water to symbolize our shared baptism.”
Parroquia de San Bernabé
Chicago, IL
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Testigo
“Preaching on the Feast of St. Phoebe, and supporting and training other women to preach, was a joyful and invigorating experience. It is beautiful to see women claim the truth that they are called and gifted, and equally beautiful to see the People of God’s receptivity to women’s preaching, ministry, and leadership.”
Rhonda Miska
St. Phoebe Day Witness at St. Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul, MN; Founder and Co-convener of the Catholic Women's Preaching Circle; Catholic Women Preach Advisory Board Member

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Aquí es donde compartimos noticias relevantes, eventos y oportunidades para participar en la labor. 
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