CATHOLIC women deacons

helping women answer the call...

Sharon Chipman

Oakland, CA

For the past 4 decades I have been involved in some form or other of ministry. I was a religious sister for 12 years and continued as a lay-ecclesial minister after that. Educationally I have an MA in Theology and an M.Div. degree. I have thoroughly enjoyed and been fed by my relationships with the people of God in the various settings in which I've been honored to serve. My discernment regarding the Deaconate is simply a paying attention to where I feel most alive, most connected to God and God's people. It is also a paying attention to the woven connections of my own life. Having ministered as teacher, campus minister, pastoral associate, faith formation director, and various other ministries, it was always through the sharing of my life story and the listening to other's life-stories that I felt the Holy Spirit's fire and warmth. Throughout my life I have been called forth by the people in my faith communities, both laity and clergy, to take roles and responsibilities of leadership and ministry. I have been blessed with many years of preaching in liturgical settings where I was "allowed" to preach. Through RCIA work I journeyed with men, women and children toward their sacraments of initiation. Over the years I have officiated at many weddings for people who wanted to celebrate their marriage in a faith-filled setting, but for various reasons not within the Church. I have officiated and preached at many funerals. Working for God's justice and serving the poor has also been a great privilege and blessing in my life. So, when the question of the deaconate came up, it was as if I saw the silt settling in the pond of my life in ministry. These are the ministries of a deacon. To God in prayer one day I noticed, "Hmmmm, I have been doing a deaconate ministry!" The weave of my life for the past twenty-five years has included marriage, children and grandchildren. The colors of the weave have certainly increased in their vibrancy. My family life has enhanced my ministry life. Should the deaconate become an option for me, I would welcome it and serve with joy. If not, I'd like to do what I can do for the next generations of women who are needed and called. As a post-scrip I would add that I see the women's deaconate as a way in which our church can immediately bring women into the preaching and liturgical life of the community. This is where 95% of active Catholics experience the majority of their connection with the Church. The people of God need women in this ministry. They need women's voices, their perspective, their experiences and their passion. God is calling. I believe God is calling me. I'm happy to say Yes.
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