Women Deacons Online Discussion

A couple of weeks ago I shared Women Deacons, A Discussion, A Community that received a fair amount of attention yet the purpose was to form an online discussion group and community of interested people. I’m convinced there are other Catholic women and men interested in the issue of women deacons and who would like to learn more.

All interested people are welcome to join the discussion of Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future utilizing the Reflection and Study Guide available for download. No preregistration is required and you do not need to commit to all of the session.

Like many of you, I have a very busy schedule and online discussion groups make it possible to engage with people that share an interest. The discussion does not require you to register and one of the beauties of an online discussion is that you can mute your end or turn off the video if you are camera shy.

The study guide walks us through four sessions. I added six sessions so there would be an opportunity to discuss next steps for anyone interested in continuing our support of the women deacons.

I hope that you will join.

Roberta Lavin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Women DeaconsTopic: Women Deacons Discussion
Time: May 29, 2019 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every 2 weeks on Wed, until Aug 21, 2019, 7 occurrence(s)
May 29, 2019 7:00 PM
Jun 12, 2019 7:00 PM
Jun 26, 2019 7:00 PM
Jul 10, 2019 7:00 PM
Jul 24, 2019 7:00 PM
Aug 7, 2019 7:00 PM
Aug 21, 2019 7:00 PM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://zoom.us/meeting/213000398/ics?icsToken=3fc503c4e3d2fe4227d6394fd3b48c99f49d202be7eda491fe01823f81026cfd

Join Zoom Meeting

One tap mobile
+16468769923,,213000398# US (New York)
+14086380968,,213000398# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
+1 408 638 0968 US (San Jose)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 213 000 398
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acfbyhTtvF

The link has a limit of 100 people, but I really doubt that will be an issue. Also, if you have never used Zoom before and email me at roberta.lavin@gmail.com and will happily send you instructions.


Women Deacons, a Discussion, a Community

When I was a new nurse the Officier in Charge gave advice about how to manage meetings as one of the few women in the room.

When you know the meeting will be contentious bake cookies.

While we might imagine that Bishops and Priests are stuck in their male-dominated mindsets that see women as less than and will never change it wasn’t until this past year that there were more women in medical school than men. Fifty years ago I guarantee you that most physicians could not imagine a woman as the head of surgery or the chief of staff or any other role in the hospital leadership except in nursing. We have now had female Surgeons General. Those graduating female physicians are entering an entirely different environment than their mothers did because their mothers fought for their rights. In the next 20 years, we will see equal representation in leadership in healthcare. Let’s not let it stop there.

It would be nice if getting the Pope to move away from the misogyny that has dominated the Chruch was as simple as baking cookies. Yet, there may have been more to the baking cookies advice than my feminist ears could hear in my twenties. It could be that she had learned how to make powerful men drop their defenses around a woman that was smarter and more determined than they were. Should we have to bake cookies, absolutely not? But, if we want to win the battle for equal human dignity we need to figure out how to break down barriers.

I consider myself a feminist. Granted from the school of us born in the 1960s when what we wanted was the right to only bake cookies because we loved family and friends and not because it was an obligation or a way to get men to listen to us in meetings. It was all about equality. Maybe it is time to send cookies to the Vatican since it is a behavior that seems to disarm men who view a woman as less than. Clearly coming to the table with evidence and a historical record didn’t work. The problem is I’m annoyed and so I want to lash out at misogyny. Honestly, I would rather fling the cookies at them.

Like any good nurse, I know that the world is filled with misogyny and people that refuse to believe the evidence. How many patients believe there is a magic cure to their knee or back pain but refuse to recognize the extra hundred pounds they are carrying is making it worse? How many providers continued to do unnecessary test long after the evidence shows that it results in unnecessary procedures? Yet nurses teach and advocate even when we know the person isn’t ready to hear us.

The Pope made clear he didn’t have ears to hear. I for one need a like-minded group of people that want to discuss this issue. I want people fighting as hard as I am to stay in the church and not throw in the flag and say if you want a boys club you can have it. I’m taking my spirituality and my faith and going home. The feminist in me says I will die before I will step aside for misogyny and men that still think the world is theirs to control

Macy, Ditewig, and Zagano wrote a book, Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future that serves as an excellent study on the issue of women deacons and they have produced a free study guide to accompany the book. I would enjoy being part of a group of like-minded people that want to read and discuss the book.

Like many people I have a busy schedule and once I’m home from work I’m unlikely to go back out. I set up a Zoom meeting if anyone wants to join me to start discussing the book and then maybe planning what we can do as an online community to advocate for women deacons. If you are interested and like-minded please join. I’m not a theologian so I don’t want to debate the issue, but rather learn and eventually plan some activism. It is my church too and I’m fighting for the human dignity of women.

Women Deacons

Roberta Lavin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Women Deacons
Time: May 15, 2019 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

One tap mobile
+16468769923,,682727627# US (New York)
+16699006833,,682727627# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 408 638 0968 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 682 727 627
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acfbyhTtvF

The link has a limit of 100 people, but I really doubt that will be an issue. Also, if you have never used Zoom before and email me at roberta.lavin@gmail.com and will happily send you instructions.


Letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis

women deacons

A detail from the “Procession of Female Saints,” a Byzantine mosaic in the Basilica St. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.

His Holiness, Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City

May 9, 2019

Dear Pope Francis,

I am writing to ask that you call women to be ordained deacons in the ministries of the liturgy, work, and charity. I am aware of the committee findings, but at some point, we must admit the evidence is clear. To say it is not is to ignore facts and history.  When we ignore the truth about women we are all diminished.

There was a time when I prayed every morning and evening and attended daily mass, but in the last few years, I have found it harder and harder to pray. The acts of men scream in my soul that women are less than men and do not share the same human dignity.  It is so loud at times it drowns out the voice of God. I question how I can belong when I’m seen as less than a man. When I express my pain over this issue there is a segment of the Church that is condescending, insulting, and generally hateful.

The history of the ordination of women runs throughout the early church. In fact, the only person called a deacon in the Bible is Phoebe. There are even documents saying how old a woman must be to be a deacon. I understand that many people have theological arguments that relate to the Priesthood, but those are rules implemented by men in more modern times. Do we really think we are closer to God than was the early church?

I want someone that can minister to me and understand my life experience, needs, and desires within the church. When I read With God in Russia about Walter Ciszek, SJ ministering to men in the Gulag I was moved and saddened. I could not help but feel pain for the women I had never met. Fr. Ciszek was able to minister to the men in a special way, but the women were alone. Did God abandon them? Did God think men more deserving or did the hardened hearts of men cause greater suffering for women then as they appear to today?

I have spent most of my adult life as a nurse working with the poor, the underserved, and those experiencing a disaster or seeking refuge in the United States. I now teach nurses so that others will go out and do the same.  I can’t imagine teaching them that because they were born male or female they couldn’t be a nurse. Likewise, I can’t imagine a world where there is no role for women to preach and minister.

When I worked in a prison almost all the ministers were men and so men in prison received greater pastoral care than women. We need more space in the church for women and especially for women that can go into the world and preach and minister to us in a way that men have not.

I believe in the equality and dignity of women and I struggle with a church that does support women as it does men. Please ask women to step up and be ordained deacons. It would send a strong message to the world that women have equal dignity with men, that we have value, and that we have much to offer the world.

I pray that one day I, and all women, will feel at home in the Church. I ask for your prayers and hope you receive this letter with the love and compassion with which it is intended.

With Warm Regards,

Roberta Lavin

The letter was inspired by women who I highly respect for their tireless work on the issue of women deacons. There is more information on women deacons in the Catholic Church and I hope all people will prayerfully consider writing the Pope. Women are not less than men. The question is do we let ourselves be run out by those men or do we stay and fight for justice? I think the Catholic church needs a new generation of Suffragettes.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, 2 so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well. (Romans 16:1-2 NRSV)