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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

Organization
“Our St. Phoebe Day celebration was a Catholic mass at its best—coming together, unified at the Eucharistic table, getting nourished through meaningful ritual, prayerful and relevant songs, a challenging message on synodality from scripture, and engaging and honest testimonies from two women in our community. St. Joan of Arc parish today did what Jesus did years ago—fed souls and gave people hope.”
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community
Minneapolis, MN
Organization
“Together, we are grateful that the ministry and example of St. Phoebe enlivens our community to participate in exploring the unique gifts of women in our faith community. Here at Cranaleith, we feel strongly about creating space for all those seeking wholeness and transformation for themselves, their communities and society. This retreat was an opportunity for us to do just that.”
Cranaleith Spiritual Center
Philadelphia, PA
Organization
“The icon of St. Phoebe is still present in our Chapel today, where we are able to remember her witness and ask her to intercede on our behalf.”
Rosemont College
Rosemont, PA

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