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Witnesses
Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish
Berkeley, CA
July 2, 2024

At our parish, Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish in Berkeley, CA, we planned a St. Phoebe Day celebration in September 2023 that was intergenerational, collaborative and open to the movement of the Spirit. To plan our celebration, we gathered a committee of five women, including three young adult women from our community, as well as three elders. We were encouraged by the intergenerational spirit present throughout our event and planning. As a committee, we worked collaboratively with the Paulist priests of the parish, and looped in parishioners and students to gather information and gauge interests, hopes and concerns. 

For our St. Phoebe Day celebration, at each Mass during the weekend of September 9, 2024, St. Phoebe was uplifted throughout the liturgy and two young women gave woman witness statements at each Mass. Additionally, we displayed five different paintings of St. Phoebe in the sanctuary that were all created by parishioners. 

We had over 70 people in attendance at our follow-up discussion and panel after Mass, which consisted of both Berkeley students and resident parishioners, reflecting our hope for an open, diverse and intergenerational space for our conversation. Many shared their varied experiences regarding the role of women in the Church. Together, we experienced the parrhesia that Pope Francis invites us to; there was openness, honesty and transparency that was courageously present in our dialogue. We were truly able to embody synodality in action where all were able to share their feelings and experiences. 

Our hope and approach for our time together was to not force any particular conversation, but instead to invite participants to engage in honest reflection on their own experiences, as well as their hopes and concerns for the future. We wanted to challenge those present to open their minds to how the Spirit can move within our community in surprising ways, and to open the space up for participants to be challenged and to imagine more. We hope that our St. Phoebe Day celebration inspired those in attendance to overcome some of the polarization that can be present in our Church. We are grateful to be on this journey with St. Phoebe as our constant companion here in our community.

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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