Florida Council of Catholic Women/Province of Miami at 3199 Park Hill Ave., Spring Hill, FL 34609 US - PHOEBE
Shortly after his election as Pope, John Paul visited the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and, standing near the high altar, which contains the remains of St. Catherine of Siena, spoke of "how deeply the mission of women is inscribed in the mystery of the Church." First and foremost is Mary, the mother of Our Lord. The Gospels tell us as well of other women who accompanied Jesus and his Apostles from Galilee to Jerusalem and devoted themselves to his mission. Among those mentioned as assisting the missionary efforts of St. Paul is Phoebe, a Christian woman in the service of the Church of Cenchreae, the eastern port of Corinth. Phoebe, in the opinion of such Scripture scholars as Fr. Brendon Byme, S.J., was entrusted by St. Paul to bring his letter to the Romans, a work judged to have a great influence on the later Christian theological development. Little is known about Phoebe. We do not know how, when or where she and St. Paul first met. It is clear that St. Paul held her in high esteem. In his letter of introduction, St Paul refers to her as "our sister who is also a deacon in the Church of Cenchreae." While one must be careful not to confuse the title deacon with the office of diaconate in the Church today, and avoid altogether translating it as deaconess, for such would be totally misleading, there is no question that Phoebe was a person of stature within the Church of Cenchreae and that she exercised a ministry of service. Phoebe is but one of a countless number of women who, the Holy Father reminds us, have shared in the past and continue to share today in the mission of the Church. Reflections: "I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is (also) a minister* of the Church at Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner of the Holy Ones and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a benefactor to many and to me as well.” *Minister in Greek: "diakonos" Discussion Starter: Compare the time in which Phoebe lived with our own today. What do we have in common? How do we differ? Phoebe was generous and confident. How would these characteristics affect our Church ministries today? Can Phoebe be a model for women in the church today? Can she be a model for you? Prayer Experience: Reflect on how you are a reflection of God's uncondifional love. Think about the leadership skills you share with others and others share with you. Create a prayer of thanksgiving for these gifts.