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Witnesses
Nina Laubach
Student, MDiv program at Princeton Theological Seminary
April 18, 2023

Student, MDiv program at Princeton Theological Seminary, Lawrenceville, NJ

Women deacons were part of the early church. Restoring women to the diaconate today is not a return to ancient times for the sake of titles or tradition; it is a realization that we can worship and minister more faithfully as God’s people when women and men are able to fully share their gifts.  We should not pursue ordination of women to the diaconate simply out of necessity or scarcity but because the fullness of the Church - of who we are called to be as the Body of Christ - has yet to be realized. 

For some, women deacons feel “risky” or “uncertain” as to how our church would change.  St. Phoebe shows us a path of continuity from our ancient community to today’s church. Then and now, women deacons can contribute to a flourishing in our life with Christ.  The Church globally will gain credibility in its capacity to serve across ecclesial, liturgical, and social borders. Challenging the embedded status quo, welcoming new voices, healing division - that doesn’t sound risky...it sounds like Jesus.  

The work of Discerning Deacons is part of the necessary and important work of retelling and reclaiming the Gospel message.  Throughout history, this Gospel has been misheard, misinterpreted, and used to exclude and divide.  But grace upon grace, amidst our brokenness, God continues to call everyone of us - ALL of us - to participate in a Church that is drawn daily towards Christ, towards communion.  

If I was ordained as a deacon, it would not be a means to an end, but rather it would be a continual invitation to a deeper and broader journey with Christ. Deacons are asked to become outwardly more visible as hands in service to the Church. To respond to such a vocation would be a treasure, a deepening of my inner faith life enriched by the outward experiences of ministry and service. Both the inner and outer journey become a longing to seek and know the Christ we are called to serve.   

Creative and Loving God, may we proclaim that the daily bread we offer you is “through your goodness, the fruit of the earth and work of human hands.” May our hands be fully human in your image, men and women doing your work, serving others, and sharing the Gospel. We thank you for all who faithfully discern your call and listen for your voice. Come, send down your spirit, and renew the face of the earth. Amen.

 

Organization
“We raised so much awareness from our event, of both the ongoing Synod and of St. Phoebe and her ministry. Together, we learned of the power of the intercession of St. Phoebe, and how significant her feast day can be to carry the message of women’s roles in the Church.”
The Church of St. Francis Xavier
New York, NY
Organization
“The most meaningful parts of our celebration together included a standing ovation following the witness reflection, the power and strength of the reflection itself, and the procession at the start of mass. In the procession, young women carried in and presented symbols of St. Phoebe including an icon, the commission of St. Paul, a deacon’s stole and a pitcher of water to symbolize our shared baptism.”
St. Barnabas Parish
Chicago, IL
Witness
“Preaching on the Feast of St. Phoebe, and supporting and training other women to preach, was a joyful and invigorating experience. It is beautiful to see women claim the truth that they are called and gifted, and equally beautiful to see the People of God’s receptivity to women’s preaching, ministry, and leadership.”
Rhonda Miska
St. Phoebe Day Witness at St. Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul, MN; Founder and Co-convener of the Catholic Women's Preaching Circle; Catholic Women Preach Advisory Board Member

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