Gratitude, Celebration and Going on Pilgrimage

Chiapas diaconate ordination. Photo Courtesy of Fr. Stephen Pitts, SJ

Chiapas diaconate ordination. Photo Courtesy of Fr. Stephen Pitts, SJ

We gathered last Thursday evening with a dozen marvelous Synod Animators to offer gratitude and celebrate the milestone of turning in our official listening synthesis! With over 350 consultations and nearly 9,000 people engaged – we reflected on what it is to bring forward our loaf, to trust that it is enough, and to believe in a God who desires to multiply what we offer up in communion.

We shared thanksgiving for the gift we’ve given each other, especially for company along the way, so that when we might have otherwise packed it in, instead we persevered and invited others to join us. Together we practiced the art of listening – to ourselves, to one another and, with humility, for the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through our shared longings, joys and hopes. 

We look forward to sharing the synthesis publicly and hope to have it ready for you next week! We’re spending a bit of time to lay it out so it’s easy on the eyes and to include the images and artwork that emerged within the process! 

I hope these summer months can be a time to step back, see where we’ve been and ask for wisdom about where we are to go next. There are exciting updates we’ll share soon as we grow our team and cast further dreams and visions for what we might offer in the service of a synodal Church. For now we invite everyone in the growing Discerning Deacons community to join us to celebrate our patron’s feast day September 3rd as we hold an evening virtual prayer service connecting those around the world with over 50 pilgrims in Mexico City. 

Speaking of pilgrimages….
I have been praying lately about what it means to take Pope Francis’ invitation to journey together literally, and together with my husband and two children – who turn 10 and 8 this very week — we are setting off from our home in Durham for a global synodal pilgrimage. Our first destination is San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas Mexico, where we’ll spend the next six weeks studying Spanish, and learning from local community members serving the Church by building the solidarity economy, forming worker cooperatives, and organizing for ecological sustainability and women’s equality… 

Why Chiapas?

In 2018 Luke Hansen shared images of a diaconal ordination in Chiapas, courtesy of Fr. Stephen Pitts, SJ who posted them back in July 2017. 

He shared the following explanation as well:
The women are up there with the men when they preside at communion services, which is the experience of the vast majority of the mission for most Sunday’s. They usually speak once or twice during the service: some preaching or extemporaneous prayers. They also distribute communion with their husbands. When I have presided at mass, at various points I try to give everyone a chance to address the community: the deacon, his wife, and the village elder if he is present.”

Since then, I’ve felt a recurring pull to go and to learn more. I’m curious about how deacon couples speak about their ministry and how they live this vocation in collaboration. I’m curious how it has grown as a way to meet the needs of the people, in a way that honors indigenous wisdom, rituals, and traditions – while also being a living sign of Jesus’ diakonia. 

Chiapas diaconate ordination. Photo Courtesy of Fr. Stephen Pitts, SJ

I look forward to sharing snippets from this journey in the year ahead… and in the meantime I’d ask that you please keep this pilgrim and our family in your prayers. 

St. Phoebe, pray for us.

Casey Stanton and her Family, leaving for Chiapas on July 5, 2022
Casey and her family as they begin their global synodal pilgrimage

Share this Article

“[I hope the Church ordains women to the diaconate] to bring a wider witness and expression of God’s life, love, and presence to the people of God. Women’s voices and leadership will heal, encourage and empower the lives of men, women, and children. It will call forth a new understanding of church vocation and enrich Catholic family life.”
Deedee Van Dyke
Catholic Chaplain, Joliet, IL
“The first Apostle was a woman, Mary Magdalena. She continues to remain a tower of strength for women in ministry today. If more women were ordained to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church, I believe we would have more meaningful and spiritually enriching homilies, and our liturgies would embrace and welcome all to the Eucharistic table.”
Sonja Grace
“If I was ordained as a deacon, it would not be a means to an end, but rather it would be a continual invitation to a deeper and broader journey with Christ. Deacons are asked to become outwardly more visible as hands in service to the Church. To respond to such a vocation would be a treasure, a deepening of my inner faith life enriched by the outward experiences of ministry and service. Both the inner and outer journey become a longing to seek and know the Christ we are called to serve.”   
Nina Laubach
Student, MDiv program at Princeton Theological Seminary

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