DeaconChat is a joint initiative of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests,
FutureChurch, and Voice of the Faithful.
On May 12, 2016, Pope Francis, responding to a question posed by members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), said that he would establish a commission to study the question of ordaining women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. That commission was formally announced in August and began its work in November of 2016. As the commission undertakes its work, it is important that Catholics -- lay and ordained -- undergo our own study and discernment of the history and present possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate. Many Catholics, clergy included, are eager to learn more about this topic. Thus, our goal is to bring the ordained and the laity together in conversation to continue to learn and discern together.
We are asking you to engage others in your community (your parish priest, parish members, your local bishop) in a conversation about women deacons.
Learn: Begin by taking some time to educate yourself. Our packet includes a Brief History of Women Deacons, biographies of women who served as deacons in the early Church, and articles by Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., who was named by Pope Francis to serve on the study commission, and by Retired Auxiliary Bishop Emil Wcela of Rockville Centre NY. You can find something for that summer reading!
Share: Consider starting a book group in your parish or start a discussion with your pastor about Dr. Zagano’s Women Deacons: Past Present and Future, which includes essays by Church historian Gary Macy, Ph.D., and Deacon William Ditewig, Ph.D. You can purchase copies directly from the publisher, Paulist Press, or use the Amazon link at the right (a percentage of your purchase will be donated to VOTF).
Already read Dr. Zagano's Women Deacons? Try one of Dr. Zagano's earlier books on women in the diaconate. Or use some of the resources available for download here as the basis of a study group or a discussion with parish clergy. For a broader look at the issues and resources on women deacons, also check out the Catholic Women Deacons website (link is external).
Connect: Invite others to spread the conversation. Arrange coffee or lunch meetings to talk about ways you can engage others in talking about women deacons. Consider hosting an information session or educational gathering for other local Catholics. Be sure to engage local clergy, if you can, in this effort. And if you yourself experience a call to the diaconate, you may wish to tell your story.
Get started now by downloading some or all of the resources available on women deacons.
In the months ahead, we will email you a very brief survey to get your feedback about how your conversation went and what follow-up actions you were able to take with others to learn and then educate others about the history and present possibility of ordaining women deacons.
Thank you for taking part in this project!
We are grateful to FutureChurch for preparing DeaconChat web pages and sharing their documents so that we all can participate in this vital conversation.