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Wondering about Women Deacons (a.k.a. Troublesome Post)

 Feast of St. Phoebe, Deacon

 Thursday, September 3rd 

I decided to revisit an article I had written for my parish's bulletin, the "Deacon's Corner" in 2018.  I stand by what I have written and have decided to republish this on St. Phoebe's day. Needless to say, this was never published in the church bulletin, but  I choose again to blog it here.  

I'm a Wondering

 If, as a Deacon, I am called to wonder; would it really be a source of scandal and confusion for me to express this wonder? I hope not. I believe if we are to deepen our faith, we must continue to wonder and ask questions, even if the pope or a bishop has not “asked for discussion on the matter”.
I recently wrote a blog about the question of woman deacons, which I also submitted for the weekly church bulletin. Within a day, my article was rejected from the bulletin’s “Deacon’s Corner” and I was sent an email stating that the article would be potentially scandalous and could sow seeds of confusion among the faithful.
Perception does not equal intent.
 Let me be clear on my intent, which is to encourage constructive conversations on how we as Church are called to serve.
 According to the powers that be, “perception is everything”. I complied with the removal request by immediately deleting the article from this blog. Since Palm Sunday, I have had the time to reflect and pray on the situation. I hope I have taken the criticism constructively, as I have edited my remarks below as so not to confuse.

 I ask you, should we remain silent and cease to wonder?
“I know I must be one of the wonders, of God’s own creation.” Is the refrain from the Natale Merchant song “Wonders” The music video captures the beauty of many different women lip-syncing the song as it celebrates the diversity of women as God’s gift. I stand in awe of the wonderous gifts women bring to the Church, from Religious Sisters who fight for social justice and the many women who are the backbone at the parish with which I serve. I can’t help but wonder about women deacons.
I have been instructed that as a deacon, the faithful look to my words has had some authority. To be truthful, I am hardly an expert about the question of woman deacons, but I still can’t help but wonder. I don’t subscribe to the outcome that women should or should not be ordained as deacons. I am just happy to hear that Pope Francis has formed a papal commission to study the question.
 Being happily married for twenty-five years with my beautiful wife Debbie and blessed with my daughter Faith, who has preached the Gospel by her words and actions, I continue to wonder how she will continue to serve the Body of Christ.
Faith has never asked the question: “Dad can I be a deacon?” But I still wonder. I wonder about all the laity and clergy and our role to serve the people of God. I understand Apostolic succession and the call of the baptized to be anointed priest, prophet, and king. I see where we can be called to serve Jesus Christ in many roles.
Let there be no misunderstanding, the Roman Catholic Church does not ordain women as deacons, but many may not be aware that women deacons existed in the early Church.
I have been advised by the diocesan hierarchy that the ordination of women deacons:  “..has not been substantiated by theologians, nor is there any evidence that the historical ministry has any equivalent or similarity those of male deacons in the Church.”
 Today a deacon is a steward of the Word and carries the Gospel to the People of God in works of charity and action. In exploring the question of women deacons, it would be fascinating to study the impact a female perspective could have on the preaching of the Word.
(Is. 50:4-7) The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them
 During Vatican II, the diaconate was re-commissioned and stirred quite a debate on the role of deacons and the relationship with the rest of the clergy and laity. I am sure the study of women deacons will last long beyond my years.
Deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the Word, Liturgy, and Charity, with a passion for Social Justice. Someone in the Church deemed it appropriate to wonder about this question of woman deacons, why else would the Holy Father call to study the matter?
 Recently I read a wonderful article, “What’s the problem with women deacons?”, from Phyllis Zagano, who is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and a member of the Papal Commission for the study of the diaconate of women.
I think it’s good to wonder and continue the discussion. – Deacon Steve


Called to Wonder

As a child is born, we are all called to wonder

As a child is born, we see the light

As a child is born, it begins to wonder

Wondering how to return to the Light

Echoes of voices, as we grow in this life

Correction, inspection, as authority pushes down

The enduring Whisper calls out

Questions and wonder drive us on

Direct us always to Your path

We seek the Word from above

Avoiding ladders perched against a crooked wall

Admonishments make us pause

Thinking deeper, always wondering

Considering the action of our Call

We see the wonder in God’s creation

Glimmers of light in the darkest mind

Creator of all, speak to us

Show us Your Way through troubled time

Remove the fear of questions

From hearts asunder

Help us seek Your truth

Called to light, as You call us to wonder



  2. For context. This is the email I received from Deacon Larry Faulkenberry, Director of Deacons for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. I disagree with his "opinion", as I trust Dr. Phyllis Zagano's research on this subject:

    Deacon Larry Faulkenberry
    Mar 14, 2018, 7:32 AM
    to me


    I just finished reading your Google blog post of March 10th, in which you raise the question of the ordination of women deacons in the church and the roles that were/should be ascribed to them. I find your article problematic for several reasons:

    1. The ordination of women deacons has not been convincingly substantiated by theologians. Nor is there any evidence to support that their ministry was equivalent, let alone similar, to male deacons.

    2. You seem to take a position that the question at hand is clear cut and the outcome should be obvious. The reality is that it is anything but. Hence, the formation of a papal commission to study the question. Moreover, the commission has not released any findings or asked for any discussion on the matter.

    3. As I told you in previous conversations, “perception is everything.” Being a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church the lay faithful look at your words as having authority. Your blog is misleading them and is a potential source of scandal and confusion.

    For these reasons, I urge you to immediately remove this posting.

    Deacon Larry Faulkenberry

    Director of Deacon Personnel

    Diocese of Rockville Centre

    PO Box 9023

    Rockville Centre, NY 11571

    (516) 678-5800, ext. 632


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