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Witnesses
Dr. Luz Marina Diaz
Director of Religious Education, Spiritual Director and Supervisor, Adjunct Professor at Fordham University, New York, NY
April 4, 2024

In Romans 16:1-2, Paul mentions Phoebe, a deacon and leader of the Cenchrean congregation, which is a hope for ordaining women as deacons. By ordaining women as deacons, we reclaim the Christian tradition that equates women and men as leaders in the early movement. These leaders traveled, preached, planted, and led churches. Many women today are prepared to serve as deacons in a Church that needs laborers. Many of them are already leading ministries. The only thing they need is recognition as deacons.

I have been director of religious education in two parishes in Manhattan, NY, since 2001. One of my responsibilities includes preparing people for the sacramental reception. Every month, I teach a baptism class for parents and godparents of children who will receive the sacrament of baptism. Initiation would be more meaningful if I were a deacon with the authority to baptize them. It will make complete sense, as many have expressed, a continuation of the process and the possibility of ending what I started. Other women in other parishes have similar experiences to mine.  

My faith community has many women called to serve as deacons. They serve in different ministerial roles. A country with a decreasing number of priests can benefit significantly from the presence of women deacons. In addition, by preaching, and celebrating weddings, baptisms, and Good Friday services, they will embody Jesus Christ’s radical message of women’s inclusion and empowerment. We should remember that Jesus Christ chose Mary Magdalene to preach the Resurrection.

I have felt called to become a deacon for many years, even though I initially thought I was meant to become a religious sister. Despite others suggesting I switch to a different Christian denomination to fulfill this calling, I have always known that the Catholic Church is where I belong. My goal is to contribute to this religious institution by serving as a religious educator, spiritual director, supervisor, and liturgical minister, and ultimately help make the diaconate available to women. While I am already 61 years old, I remain hopeful that I will live to see the day when Catholic women can become deacons. While waiting, I prayerfully cling to the words of Jesus: “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.”

The Discerning Deacons project reflects our prophetic responsibility as baptized believers through its mission. With a prophetic voice, this mission addresses patriarchal gender bias that has distorted women’s leadership as benefactors and deacons. It also identifies the need for the restoration of the women’s diaconate in a synodal way, which is Pope Francis’ invitation to church proceedings ‘to plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.’” (Preparatory Document, #32)

God, thanks for this opportunity to journey as a community of faith in a synodal way, accompany us in this discernment movement to the women’s diaconate. Send us the necessary blessings to perceive the path that the Holy Spirit is illuminating to experience today the empowerment that Jesus gave to all the women of the gospel. We ask this in the name of Jesus and the company of the deaconess and benefactor Phoebe. Amen

Endorser
“I have worked alongside many lay and religious women in my ministry who have exhibited outstanding ability for ministry.  Many have taught me by their example how to be a more effective minister, and by their instruction, helped me to grow in this role…It’s time that the Church gets in step with society and recognizes the equality of women in the workplace.  Women are as capable as men in the work of ministry, and have demonstrated the same equality in scholarship, skills and education as men.”
Fr. Joseph A. Genito, O.S.A
Pastor, St. Thomas of Villanova Parish, Philadelphia, PA
Witness
“If there were women deacons in my parish, lay women would relate in a deep and meaningful way to deacons who look, act, speak and feel more like themselves…Though I am an unlikely choice to wear the alb and stole, I have a deep commitment to service in Christ’s name and I try to live it every day. Any need that arises, I am ready to shoulder it, though some needs of our sisters and brothers would be well- or better-served by a woman’s different compassion.”
Deacon Bill Zapcic
Parish Deacon and Homilist, Retired Journalist, Tinton Falls, NJ
Endorser
“Not only is ordaining women as deacons a restoration of the dynamism of the early Church, it is a matter of justice!”
Fr. Stephen P Newton, CSC
Executive Director, Association of US Catholic Priests, Notre Dame, IN

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