The Way of Saint Phoebe: A Conversation with Ellie Hidalgo of Discerning Deacons

Our sincere thanks to Ellie Hidalgo, co-director of Discerning Deacons, for an informative and wide-ranging discussion on the history and mission of the organization and its active discernment about women in the diaconate. We looked at the role of deacons within parish communities, how women could uniquely contribute to the pastoral, practical, and spiritual aspects of diaconal ministry, and ways in which Discerning Deacons is advancing the work of synodality. Ellie also shared details of her recent pilgrimage to Mexico City and the Amazon, where she accompanied Catholic religious and lay women who are ministering to their small faith communities.

We’re pleased to present a recording of the presentation for those who were unable to attend. Links to items of interest and ways to get involved with Discerning Deacons are below.

Deaconesses were a firm part of the tradition through the early centuries of the Church. The very fact that women are denied the privilege but men are not, now that the practice has been revived [since Vatican II], is indicative of a basic and primitive and non-Christian attitude toward women. Unlike the question of priestly ordination, where sincere concern for tradition is at least a plausible question, the role of deaconess is well established and simply denied. In view of the rising consciousness of women and their manifest and continuing commitment to the ministry of Jesus, no pastoral agenda is complete without this question.

– Joan Chittister, Women, Ministry and the Church (1983)

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