A New Phoebe, women in the U.S. and German-the two countries with the most deacons-write about their ideas and experiences of ministry: some would seek the diaconate if it were open, others would not. The concluding essays, including an interview with Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler, the first chair of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Permanent Diaconate, provide additional historical background.
Arlene Swidler has been publishing books and articles on Catholic women's issues since the 1960s. She is a co-founder of theJournal of Ecumenical Studies. Virginia Ratigan has been teaching full time in the Religious Studies Department at Rosemont College for eight years.