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Testigos
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community
Minneapolis, MN
July 2, 2024

At our parish, St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis, MN we celebrated St. Phoebe during the weekend of September 17th, 2023. At our 9am and 11am gym Masses, our liturgies were overflowing with places where we lifted up the witness of St. Phoebe and highlighted her ministry.

Before mass, two lay parishioners shared testimonies about their own experiences and calls to the diaconate, and also shared more about the story and witness of St. Phoebe. All the liturgical music throughout the Masses uplifted women. Some songs included Bobby McFerrin’s Psalm 23 and a litany of female saints. There was also a procession of female saints, including St. Joan of Arc, St. Kateri Takakwitha, Queen Esther, St. Josephine Bakhita and St. Phoebe. We also had a blessing and anointing of a St. Phoebe icon to be displayed on St. Joan of Arc’s campus after the celebration. After the icon was blessed, it was lifted high and presented to all; this moment was so meaningful as we could imagine St. Phoebe herself viewing all of us gathered together in her honor with hope and joy. 

All female Eucharistic ministers served during the liturgy, and Fr. James Debruycker, the priest celebrant for our liturgy, explained the role and history of deacons in the Church. 

At our family Masses during the same weekend, the story of St. Phoebe was enacted by a parishioner during the liturgy. For an interactive activity, children made a scroll like the scroll St. Phoebe carried to Rome and received a coloring sheet that included St. Phoebe’s name. 

After all masses, we tabled in our parish Welcome Center and gave out literature about St. Phoebe, the Global Synod and Discerning Deacons. We even gave out M & Ms with “Discerning Deacons” printed on them. Parishioners were also given the choice to opt in to receive more information about this ongoing discernment and the Global Synod. At the table, parishioners also had the chance to share their feedback and reaction to our celebration. 

Some quotes that were shared included: 

“I have waited for a celebration like this my entire life.” 

“After hearing the woman witness say, ‘I have a deacon inside of me. I can now say, ‘I have a deacon inside of me too.” 

“As an SJA male, I recognize that change is needed, wanted and deserved! I applaud and support the movement to assure women their rightful place in our church. Let’s go!” 

“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.”

The energy within our community is apparent. The Holy Spirit is so clearly active amongst all of us. This was eye-opening for so many, and was just the beginning of our own journey to uplift St. Phoebe’s example, and the leadership and ministry of women in our community. St. Phoebe, pray for us!

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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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Organization
“Together, we experienced the parrhesia that Pope Francis invites us to; there was openness, honesty and transparency that was courageously present in our dialogue. We were truly able to embody synodality in action where all were able to share their feelings and experiences.”
Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish
Berkeley, CA

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