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Twenty Catholic Women Speak about Their Call to the Permanent Diaconate at FutureChurch Retreat; See Themselves as a Growing Movement
Release date: 
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

For Immediate release

Twenty Catholic Women Speak about Their Call to the Permanent Diaconate at FutureChurch Retreat; See Themselves as a Growing Movement

Twenty pioneering Catholic women made church history in Cleveland, Ohio over the weekend of September 16 – 18, 2016 by participating in the first-ever gathering designed to help Catholic women explore their call to the permanent diaconate. The retreat, hosted by FutureChurch, brought together women from across the United States and Canada, ranging in age from 27 to 71.

“It was clear that the women gathered are fully active and engaged ministers who love the Church and who are not only called to serve, but are already serving,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, FutureChurch executive director. The women who attended were experienced ecclesial ministers serving the church as pastoral administrators of parishes without a priest, hospice chaplains, pastoral ministers, spiritual directors, prison chaplains, RCIA directors and more. 

Retreatant Connie Walsh of the St. Paul and Minneapolis diocese commented, “The Spirit was very much alive in that ‘upper room’ in Cleveland.” Throughout the weekend, retreatants engaged in prayer, shared their stories with each other, voiced their struggles to reconcile their personal call with current church practice, shared their hopes for future of the Church and developed plans to advocate for the restoration of women deacons in the Catholic church today.

"To be in the company of women who love this church and who serve the people of God was uplifting and energizing.  I pray for the work of the Commission and look forward to the day when all God's people can fully use their gifts in service to the church, " said Rosemary Robinson, another retreatant.

FutureChurch has educated Catholics on the history of women deacons in the Church and advocated for the restoration of women deacons through its Catholic Women Deacons, Why Not Now project for the last twelve years. The retreat was part of a year-long effort to amplify the voices of women who experience a call to the diaconate and to bring them into conversation with each other and the Church. It had been planned before Pope Francis announced a commission to study the question of women deacons in the Catholic Church.

“The bishops of the Second Vatican Council recognized that men were already doing the work of the diaconate and decided ‘to strengthen them by the imposition of hands which has come down from the Apostles, and to bind them more closely to the altar, that they may carry out their ministry more effectively because of the sacramental grace of the diaconate (Ad gentes).’ Today, the Church should offer the same graces to women who are already doing the work of deacons.”  said Russ Petrus, FutureChurch program director.

MEDIA EVENT - SEPTEMBER 27, 2016:  THREE CATHOLIC WOMEN ADDRESS THE PRESS

Three women who attended the retreat will speak about the growing movement on September 27, 2016 at 1:00pm EDT.  They will address and answer questions from the press regarding their call to the permanent diaconate, their struggles to answer that call in the Roman Catholic Church and their recognition of a new movement emerging during a telephone press conference. To learn more write: debrose@futurechurch.org.

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About FutureChurch

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition of parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.

 

About FutureChurch Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition of 3,500 parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.