Pope Francis, Sister Thea Bowman and Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

Pope Francis and Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns chat about her Sister Thea Bowman lapel pin.

I continue to be humbled by and grateful for Pope Francis’ appointment to participate in the Synod on Synodality in October 2023 and 2024. I expected an incredible, life changing experience and that is the gift I received.

I spent September 28th thru October 30th in Rome as one of fifty-four women delegates, who for the first time in church history, have the right to vote alongside deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals, and Pope Francis.

To do this sacred work, I grounded myself in spiritual/contemplative practices so I could be present to the Holy Spirit. I created a Synod spiritual treasure box filled with images, songs, quotes, prayers, words of encouragement, and my Bible. And I leaned into Sister Thea Bowman’s strength, love, patience, wisdom, and commitment to justice for ALL.

Sister Thea Bowman, the granddaughter of enslaved persons, converted to Catholicism at age nine and later joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration pre-Vatican II. She died of cancer in 1990. The edict opening the formal investigation into her cause for canonization occurred in 2018. Even in death, her spiritual authority as a witness for God continues to challenge us to participate in the healing of the world. During my time at the Synod, she was my constant spiritual companion, and I wore my Sister Thea lapel pin every day we were in session. I am grateful I had the opportunity to gift a Sister Thea lapel pin to Pope Francis. 

The Church continues to be reformed. May we all continue to listen deeply to the Holy Spirit and one another as we embody Jesus’ love. 

-Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

-Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns

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Witness
“[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
Witness
“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
Witness
“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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