Photo: Statue of Radegund of Gaul, a 6th Century deacon, at Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, Paris
In 2016, FutureChurch expanded its teleconference series focusing on the restoration of women to the permanent diaconate and the challenge the Church faces as younger Catholics walk away in greater numbers.
In April 2016, the first teleconference, Ready to Serve, featured three Catholic women – Connie Walsh, Cynthia Bowns, and Natalie Terry – who are ready to serve as deacons and have experienced a call to this ministry. The teleconference was especially rich as these women shared their personal experiences, inspirations, joys and struggles with their call to ministry in the Church.
The second, WomenDeacons? Essays with Answers, featured Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., a preeminent scholar on the topic who has been named to serve on the commission. During the conversation, Zagano focused on the questions that the then-to-be-named commission would likely take up.
The third in the series, Women Deacons in the Roman Church, featured Gary Macy, Ph.D., a Church historian, who discussed women deacons and the meaning of ordination in Church history. He also discussed the reasons that women deacons disappeared in the West.
FutureChurch also tackled the challenge of the ever-diminishing number of young Catholics in the Church, especially young Catholic women.
A teleconference hosted in July featured sociologist Patricia Wittberg, SC,Ph.D., who presented Young Women in the Catholic Church. In her presentation she shared statistical data that indicates that, for the first time in history, the number of young women leaving the Church is now slightly higher than that of young men.
The second teleconference, on August 24th, Millennials Speak for Themselves, featured the voices of two Catholic Millennial women, Annie Burns and Michelle Maddex and Russ Petrus, FutureChurch’s Program Director. When asked what the Church could do to attract young Catholics, all three suggested that the social Gospel and community were central features that could bring Catholics back.
The FutureChurch Teleconference Series stimulates conversation around the topics Catholics care about most. Stay tuned as we continue to bring you enriching discussions and stimulating ideas.
Recordings of the teleconference can be heard at www.futurechurch.org/podcasts.