My experience of vocation includes and goes beyond my work as a medical doctor. I have a deep desire to journey with others — to serve, anoint and pray with them. I also have a deep desire to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his words and to go out and proclaim, “I have seen the Lord.” This is where I experience a call to the diaconate.
Deacons are to “inspire, promote and help coordinate the service that the whole Church must undertake in imitation of Christ.” I’ve come to see that Jesus has called me to serve as a deacon: to make known the needs of my patients to my church community gathered on Sunday. Small campaigns to pray and to meet needs have led to beautiful responses from my parish. I feel called to connect my vocation as a doctor to my call as a deacon. They stem from the same desire to answer God’s call to “feed my sheep.”
I meet Christ through the Catholic Church and most intensely and deeply in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I dare to imagine a Church where God’s call of women to feed God’s sheep extends from the community to the altar, where women can stand in the tradition of Phoebe and Mary of Magdala, offering the nourishment of God’s Word through our preaching.
As Jesus received and blessed the woman that anointed his feet, and as he commissioned Mary of Magdala to share the Good News to others, the ordination of women to the diaconate would recognize and bless the grace of this calling in women. I pray that the Church will ordain women “who have done a good thing” (Matt. 26:10) and “who have done what they could” and “anticipated anointing” (Mark 14:8) and who go and proclaim the Good News, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).
Dr. Lydia Tinajero-Deck, a physician at a bustling community clinic in Alameda County, Calif., is a lector, Eucharistic minister, catechism teacher and member of the Social Justice Committee at St. Theresa Parish in Oakland.
With young people in her parish, she has coordinated building homes in Tijuana, Mexico, and she is in the second year of a formation program to become an Ignatian Companion. A Mexican-American Catholic, Lydia is married and has four adult children, who continue to teach her what it means to “be church.”