Document 9: Jeanne Barnes, "Editorial," The Journey, 1, no. 1 (May 1970): 1-2, Herstory Collection 2, reel 6. 2 pp.
In 1970, a twenty-four year old student named Jeanne Barnes placed a brief advertisement in a liberal Catholic magazine looking for women, like herself, who felt a call to the diaconate or the priesthood. When flooded with responses, Barnes decided to found "the Deaconess Movement," an organization determined to gain ordination for women in the Catholic Church. To build the movement, Barnes started a newsletter called The Journey, a successful endeavor that helped create a network of aspiring women priests and deacons across the country. This piece appeared on the front cover of The Journey's first issue, and reveals Barnes's determination, faith, and her strong commitment to reforming the Church in a spirit of love. Barnes left the Deaconess Movement after one year, but the cause was taken up by another single laywoman, Mary B. Lynch, who led the movement until 1975 when it was transformed into the Women's Ordination Conference.
At one time we were all isolated — alone with our dream. Some of us were frustrated after having hit our feminine heads too long against a solid wall of prejudices. Others of us were self-doubting, seriously wondering, questioning, soul-searching in an attempt to discover if the diaconate was really what God expected of our lives. Then there were some of us who were singing songs of hope and faith, knowing that in God, all things ARE possible.
We were strangers to each other; but we dared to dream the same dream and in that dream we become one. We now, in a very real sense, need each other. Varied in personalities, present vocations, education, and ages we compose a very diverse group; we are a collection of unique personalities with varied viewpoints and one goal — to work toward the perfection of the Church.
The majority of us have come together because we feel the Church, in her present overt discrimination policies against women is in error. Being a human institution guided by the Holy Spirit, we should not be afraid to recognize error; but rather, we should be encouraged by remembering that each of us as People of God, are also instruments of the Holy Spirit. Our obligation is to aide the Church, to work with her, to lovingly try to convert her from her misconceptions and to bring her to a clearer light of wisdom and of justice.
This is the task of the Deaconess Movement. Not so much is our function to have our vocation as women deacons realized as it is to live our lives as concerned Christians in service of the Church.
The principle function of "The Journey" is to make unity among us more possible — not just on the level of learning each other's names and localities, but also to assist us in coming together in action. Ideas that have been offered to me will be suggested and explored. If you think that these suggestions are workable within your immediate areas, then please experiment with them.
Further, these newsletters will be the main source of circulating information given to me by individuals…a bishop who is willing to consider the question, progress made by the diaconate committee in Washington, and groups which have pledged support.
But these objectives can only be realized if you feel strongly enough, if you care enough to share your knowledge and insights with me so that I can pass the ideas on to others.
There is one point which, perhaps at this moment, deserves clarification. I was asked if Quincy is the "center" of the Deaconess Movement, The answer is definitely NO! The center is located with each of you from the Bronx to Berkeley. The original center of the Diaconate was not in a special area; but rather, it was in the heart of an expressed by the lives of those first deaconesses in the Apostolic Church. And so it must be today. The Holy Spirit is not just with me; and so the Spirit is with each one of us. Quincy might be considered the center in relation to being a link between you and the other women. But beyond that the progress of the movement does not lie with me but with each of you becoming dispensers of information, encouragers of more creative thought on the part of women who are just becoming aware of their own Christian capabilities and responsibilities.
The key function of this particular mailing in is to help you toward that goal, to prepare you to be a precursor and representative in your own area. Such an objective is the reason for inclusion of the historical sketch of the diaconate of women and a consideration of the present deacon program. Also enclosed is an article which Father Hovda, editor of Living Worship, has generously supplied.
Further newsletters will probably appear every two months. They will be from a single page to twenty, depending upon the amount of feedback and the progress achieved.
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