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Witnesses
Jane Cavanaugh
Founder of Churchbeat: At the Intersection of Faith and Funny
July 2, 2024

A 12-year professional acting career in comedy is the perfect background for my work with Discerning Deacons. Not only because keeping a sense of humor in the slow work of church reform is essential, but I also know what it’s like to want a particular role in a show and get a completely different role and make the best of it. I know what it’s like to want the lead role, but get a role in the chorus. I have learned to trust the director’s vision, because he or she has the big picture and knows exactly how my gifts and talents fit into the success of the show.  

These days in my prayer life, I’m drawn to the Exodus story because it feels like we in the Catholic Church are in the wilderness, trying to find our way. If you look at the Exodus story as a play with God as the director and Moses and Joshua as the actors, I think Joshua got the better role because he got to take God’s people into the Promised Land. Moses, on the other hand, got a less satisfying role in my view. He led the Israelites through the wilderness (the tough part), but never arrived in the Promised Land (the fun part).

I would love to see women restored to the diaconate in my lifetime. You could say I want the Joshua role to help take God’s people into the Promised Land, but I get the feeling that God has cast me in more of a Moses role to help lead God’s people out of the wilderness. I trust God, my director in life, because God has the big picture of the Church in mind. I know God is using my skills and talents right now to get us, at some point, into the Promised Land ––when our Church fully acknowledges and embraces the gifts and leadership vocations of women around the world.

 

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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