Parishes celebrate St. Phoebe with educational events

Nearly 80 parishioners from 13 parishes in the San Diego region gathered at The Immaculata Parish on St. Phoebe’s feast day, September 3.

We’re delighted to share that based on the reports parishes and schools have been submitting, an estimated 38,000 people have participated in Phoebe Day celebrations! One of the many ways parishes have celebrated St. Phoebe in September is to organize educational events to raise awareness of women’s ministerial roles at the beginning of Christianity – particularly the diaconate.

Nearly 80 parishioners from 13 parishes in the San Diego region gathered at The Immaculata Parish on Sept. 3 to hear Dr. Florence Gillman’s address, “The Rarely Told Story of Women in Earliest Christianity.”

Gilman, Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at University San Diego and Adjunct Professor at the Franciscan School of Theology, noted the 30 women whom St. Paul mentions in his letters as having contributed to the building of the early church communities. What happened to the egalitarianism of Jesus and Paul? Roman rejection and persecution of Christians appears to have led regrettably to cultural adjustments on the part of Christians, noted Gilman. Phoebe became a hidden figure when her story ceased to be told.

Fast forward 2,000 years and the Synod on Communion, Participation and Mission has reinvigorated the desire to unearth the history of women’s leadership roles in early Christianity, and to ask ourselves, how can our Church more fully celebrate the gifts and charisms of women today?

During synodal listening circles following Gilman’s presentation, parishioners shared about a time they felt celebrated as a woman in the Church; a disappointment they carry in their hearts; and a hope they have for our church today.

In Minneapolis, the Basilica of Saint Mary sponsored a Breakfast with St. Phoebe hosted by Pastor Fr. Daniel Griffith, and Director of Christian Life Janice Andersen. Along with scones, fruit, coffee and juice, 50+ parishioners gathered for breakfast to learn about Who was St. Phoebe?, and The Five Things People Should Know on the Eve of the Global Synod. Discerning Deacon’s Deputy Director of Engagement Lisa Amman was a guest speaker about the Church’s vision of synodality, the upcoming Global Synod and the discernment about women’s participation, including the diaconate. St. Phoebe prayer cards were distributed and parishioners were encouraged to get further involved through prayer, discernment and witnessing.

Throughout the country, groups are launching their own study circles to continue the learning journey – reading Just Church: Catholic Social Teaching, Synodality and Women as well as Women: Icons of Christ by Phyllis Zagano (which has a corresponding free study guide), and downloading DD’s Sample Curriculum.

Continue to visit our St. Phoebe Day Resources page, and subscribe to our newsletter for more updates.  

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“[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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