deaconesses anyone?

so, ive heard several opinions concerning deaconesses in church and im not really sure whats right. first of all, i want to make sure everyone knows i mean deaconesses who serve outside...nothing in the altar. ive actually been meaning to send a question to the pope through CYC but im not sure, so i thought id try here first since its so popular :D
im open to any thoughts you all might have  :)
God bless


  • Someone asked Bishop Youssef:

    Can women hold or have ever held positions of authority such as deaconess or priest-ess in your church?

    In our Church a woman can hold the position of a deaconess but not a priestess. We define a deaconess as a maid that has devoted her life to serving God and to prayers as well. St. Paul mentioned Phoebe as a deaconess (Rom 16:1).

    A deaconess is officially in charge of certain duties in the church. She helps the priest in serving women, particularly the sick and needy, as well as in conducting baptism to them. She is not to be ordained but raised. In the early church, deaconesses were recognized as a distinct order for women who took a vow of perpetual chastity. They were, nevertheless, allowed to perform only certain duties in the care of women, and no sacerdotal services in the church.

    Why can't girls become deacons like boys?

    We are all members of the one Church and each of us has a role. The Holy Bible speaks only about male deacons in the letter of St. Paul to his disciple St. Timothy. Let every one of us be satisfied with the role God has given them. "But now indeed there are many members, yet one body...But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Cor 12:15-26).

    It was also discussed here:

    Deaconesses and Serving the Altar

    Not only is this concerning priesthood, but also the work of
    deacons in serving the altar. When the Apostles consecrated
    the seven first deacons, what did they say? They said:
    "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of
    good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we
    may appoint over this business" (Acts 6: 3). In the history of
    the Church, we may find some Deaconesses, not for the service
    of the altar, but for social service or educational service or for
    discipline or for helping the priest in matters concerning women
    in the holy Sacraments, but not for serving the altar, not for the
    Holy Eucharist, not to baptise, nothing of the sort.
    In the First Epistle to Timothy, chapter 2, verses 11-15, Saint
    Paul does not permit women to teach men in the church. In
    the Coptic Church we let women teach children or other women
    or girls in Sunday School, but they do not teach men.
    I am sorry, I do not want women to be displeased, but this is
    the Holy Bible. It is not a problem: it is how to give certain
    gifts to certain people. It is not being against women, but it
    is a matter of classifying the gifts of God.
    Now I return to Romans, chapter 12, regarding this matter, to
    read and see what the Holy Bible says to us: "For I say,
    through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you,
    not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but
    to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of
    faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the
    members do not have the same function, so we, being many,
    are one body in Christ, and individually members of one
    another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace
    that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy
    in the proportion to our faith; or ministry..." (Rom. 12: 3-6),
    and then it goes on to describe every kind of ministry. Of
    course women have ministries in the church, not priesthood, but
    many other kinds of work and responsibilities.
    In the First Epistle to Timothy, the Apostle says: "Let a woman
    learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a
    woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in
    silence" (1Tim 2: 11,12). That means that the work of prayer
    in the Liturgy is the work of the priest. She may attend silently
    and not teach men or have authority over men.

    Women And The Priest’s Work

    There are many things in the work of the priest which may
    not be suitable for women, for example, baptising men.
    How can a woman baptise men? It is not easy. If she is a
    bishop and ordains priests, that means that these priests will be
    subordinate to her, under her authority, under her hierarchy or
    jurisdiction. This is contradictory to the teaching of the
    Holy Bible. The Holy Anointment, how can she anoint men?
    How about the periods in which a woman cannot enter the
    church, or it is not easy for her to work, if she is a priest and
    pregnant in the ninth month or eighth month, or when she gives
    birth and must stay at home. I do not want to enter into such
    detail, but many other points concerning women may not help
    her work constantly in the church.44

    Church Sacraments Delivered To Men

    When our Lord Jesus Christ delivered the Sacraments of the
    Church, He did not deliver these Sacraments to women.
    For example, when He delivered Priesthood, as is mentioned in
    Saint John's Gospel, chapter 20, verses 21 to 23, He gave this
    authority to the eleven Apostles: “Then Jesus said to them (to
    the eleven Apostles) again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has
    sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He
    breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.
    If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you
    retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” (John 20:21-23) He
    gave this to the Apostles, to the Eleven, not to any women.
    When He gave them the Sacrament of Baptism, if we read
    for example Saint Matthew's Gospel, chapter 28, verse 16:
    “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the
    mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. And when they
    saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus
    came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given
    to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make
    disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the
    Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to
    observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
    with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28: 16-
    20). He gave the authority of baptising and teaching to the
    Eleven. He did not call all the women- although many women
    were very holy and were serving Him, as mentioned in Luke
    chapter 8, and those who followed Him to the Cross. But He
    said this to the Eleven.
    And also of the Eucharist, Saint Paul said: "For I received
    from the Lord that which I also delivered to you" (1Cor. 11:
    23). He received this Sacrament from the Lord. This
    Sacrament was also given by the Lord to the Eleven after the
    departure of Judas. He said to them, “Do this in remembrance
    of Me.” He said to them: “... teaching them to observe all
    things that I have commanded you”, meaning what they were
    taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, and this also was for the
    Eleven. And He appeared to them for forty days and spoke to
    them about the mysteries of the kingdom of God, about all
    things concerning the kingdom of God, this also was to the
    eleven Apostles.

    I think it is better for a woman to remain a woman, to work
    in services, and handle responsibilities which are more
    suitable for a woman. A bird may sing a sweet song on a tree
    and a lion may roar in the forest. If the bird tries to be a lion, it
    is not suitable. It is more beautiful for the bird, for the sparrow
    or the pigeon, to sing a sweet song and than to roar like a lion.
    And if the lion tries to sing like the bird it will not be acceptable.
    Let women be in the service of women, and man in the
    service of man.

    Responsibilities of Women

    A woman has great responsibilities. Among these
    responsibilities, I may mention, is having pastoral care for
    children in order to prepare a new generation for the
    Church. One of our problems is that women have no time to
    care for their children.
    I can mention a holy woman in history and that is Jochebed the
    mother of Moses. Due to the teaching given by this holy
    woman to her son Moses -Moses lived in the palace of Pharaoh
    when he was three, four or five years old and lived the rest of
    the 40 years among many pharaonic worships and many idols-
    Moses became not only a man of faith but a hero of faith.
    How? Because of the teaching of his holy mother who
    instilled faith in him during his childhood.
    If women take care of their children they prepare for us the
    priests of the Church. The priests of the Church of course
    were once children, and if children are well prepared, well
    taught and well instructed in religious teachings, by their
    mothers, then women will have prepared priests without
    being themselves priests.
  • Deaconess is not the same thing as a female deacon.

    Pope Shenouda in his papacy has reinstated this position.
  • My personal opinion is that it would be good to have dedicated females who committed themselves to service in the Church. Indeed their ministry would be a witness as to what that of all deacons properly is, one of humble service.

    We must remember that the first seven deacons waited at table during the Agape meal. And they were called to this service because the Apostles had already been doing it and just had too much else to do.

    The female diaconate of service was entrusted to widows and older women. They had proved themselves over many years of quiet commitment to others. Just as the male diaconate was entrusted to those men who had proved themselves. I hope that the full diaconate will be properly restored and these men given the respect that is due to their humility. There are problems with all the ranks being confused in one name of 'deacons'.

    If the male diaconate was given more clarity and the ranks made much more explicit then I think that a female diaconate of older women would also have a clearer role. The service in the altar is only one aspect of the male diaconate. All those who have been ordained to any service should be known for their humility, their obedience, their self-sacrifice. There should be no pushing oneself forward, no sense of being a performer. If there is a pride it should be in finding some task that no-one else wants and doing it without being noticed.

    Such hidden and humble service can unite both male and females who are called to such ministry. But it is a calling to a humble service which we all need to (re)discover.

    Acts 9:36  In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity, which she was always doing.

    Acts 9:39  So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him upstairs. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him all the shirts and coats Dorcas made while she was still with them.

    Father Peter
  • My feeling is that everyone should be thrown off of the ranks of the diaconate, and that they would go through a process of training and earn their way back to being ordained.
  • Thank you for the links TITL, and the excerpts! they were really good :) Yes, I agree with everything concerning the altar, and I've always been a bit iffy about female doesn't make sense to me either, but i don't want to get into a debate about it with my friends at school cuz they'll think its discrimination or whatever when its actually the proper distribution of roles, each according to his/her own ability.

    Fr. Peter, when you say "dedicated females" do you mean women who are forever consecrated to the church, never to be married..similar to St. Mary? I actually kind of like the's like being a nun but still serving in the world...hmm..

    what IS the difference b/w a female deacon and a deaconess? do you mean like a female deacon is literally a deacon who does everything as a deacon (altar and all) but is a girl?
    Good point about "earning" their way back to ordination. I know we let young children serve in the altar before their ordination as a way to encourage them, however, there are several older deacons whose ability to hold that position faithfully is questionable :) None of us are worthy to even enter the church, and we could never prove ourselves worthy to do so, but as a deacon in the church serving exclusively in the altar, that position deserves some work to be gained...

    God bless...and thanks so much for all your insight you guys :)
  • I have already mentionned this story but anyways, here it goes:
    My friend that recently came from Egypt told me that he had to go thru 2
    years of hymns, coptic, rites... classes in order to be ordained.
    I agree with what lvnvrfails13 because whenever I serve in the altar
    with about 8 other people, about 7 of them are under grade 2.
    Therefore, none of them know how to read well or can respond...
    So you would see, 7 deacons responding "epi-prosekhi stathita" and
    2 deacons responding the rest...
    That really makes me mad.
    The priest in my church just like to have many deacons for when we get
    a bishop, I think it is supposed to look cute.
    I honestly find it a joke when no deacon knows or wants to do their job properly,
    because it is not only the little kids but also older deacons that just stand there
    and "look pretty".
    I will cut myself off before I might regret saying anything ;) ;D
    God bless, pray for me,

  • There aren't many of them, but of course they exist! I think they are a really important service in our church.

    In Kenya there are two Sisters serving the Maseno parishes and they are awesome! Sisters Barbara and Maria, and they serve the widows and their children, help the Fathers with the baptism, lead Sunday school and most importantly lead a service called Daughters of St. Mary. This is a ministry taking care of hundreds of the homeless and orphaned kids around the parishes of Maseno.

    They are consecrated and will be serving the church all their lives in celibacy. They wear the clothes of a Sister but not a nun, church is more similar to that of a monk. They pray the Morning Prayers and Doxologies every morning, and the Midnight Prayers and Praise every night. They are both native Kenyans but know the Coptic just as well as anyone! It's awesome :)

    Hope I helped a bit. Pray for me.
  • That's almost exactly how it is at my church Cyril  :D a group of little kids all saying the same response together since they barely know anything else (but we're working on that...)
    concerning your friend who went through 2 years of training, im assuming he is now very capable of fulfilling the responsibilities of a deacon? I think we should have a program or a school like that here that teaches deacons all the rites and hymns and stuff. Unless we already do in N. America and im just late?  :P

    Wow i didn't know all that stuff was goin on! That is some serious service! oh ok, so it is celibacy...just checkin. Thats great to hear and you're right, it is an important service in our churches and i think it would be extremely beneficial to employ it more here!
    You helped a lot  :) thank you very much!

    God bless
  • This is what Bishop Mettaous says about Deaconesses...


    In the early church there were deaconesses helping the Apostles, and later they served with the bishops and priests in various services. Initially, the service was only available to widowed women over the age of sixty. The Apostolic Canons

    imposed a condition that deaconess must be virgin, or widow, and over the age of sixty.

    St. Paul cared about the subject of widowed deaconesses in the first church and wrote about them in the fifth chapter of his first epistle to his disciple Timothy. According to our teacher St. Paul, the conditions for a successful deaconess are :

    A widow who has been the wife of one man (1 Timothy 5:9), or virgin.

    If a widow, she must not be under sixty years, so that she not become a stumbling block in the service, because of her youthfulness, or intention of remarrying.

    She must be recognized for her vitreous deeds, manners, and previous service. “If she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she diligently followed every good work, with a reputation for good works, if she has brought up children.”

    Examples of these successful deaconesses are : Phoebe, who was commended by St. Paul for the church of Rome, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church of Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also” (Romans 16:1,2).

    She wrote the epistles to the Romans, as dictated by our teacher St. Paul, and carried it to the believers in Rome.

    We also hear about other deaconesses, and a disciple of St. Paul, called Tekla. She believed, was baptized and became a disciple of St. Paul who assigned her for service in Iconia, her original homeland. She faced many tribulations and torture, but the Lord saved her every time, she spent all her life in service. Then when she was eighty years old, she secluded herself for meditation, then peacefully passed away in old age, after a long and faithful service.

    The Greek Sixaxarium praised her saying, “Hail to St. Tekla who was martyred without shedding blood!” The Coptic church celebrates her death on the 23rd of Tut every year. The blessing of her prayers may be with us. Amen.

    From the thirteenth century, the service of consecrated deaconesses in church was abolished, but due to the urgent need for the service of women in church, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, decided to revive this rite, on the Feast of Pentecost in 1981, by consecration of a large number of deaconesses for the service of Cairo churches. Today, many bishops have also consecrated deaconesses for the service within their dioceses.

    During the Holy Synod meeting on the feast of Pentecost in 1992, the Synod established certain rites and conditions, pertaining to the order of Consecration for the Consecrated Deaconess. The following are some points:

    It is well known that the rank of deaconess in church is not a priestly rank. There is no Priesthood for women. St. Mary the mother of the Incarnated God and the Lady of the heavenly and earthly did not have any priestly rank, although she was a spiritual mother for the apostles and was accompanying them in service.

    The ranks of deaconesses are similar to those of deacons that is Ognostis, Epideacon, and Deacon, corresponding to Consecrated, Assistant Deaconess, and Deaconess.

    The rite is called the ‘Rite of Consecration of the Consecrated.’

    The consecration, which is done by a bishop, is performed without the laying on of hands, which is different from priestly ordinations.

    These prayers take place in a private mass for women as their service is not for the entire congregation, but for a specific sector of them.

    Unlike the deacons, their prayers do not take place after the Reconciliation Prayer, so they are not considered as priestly dedication.

    Consecration takes place after the morning raising of incense, and starts by the bishop saying, “...(name), Consecrated / Assistant Deaconess for ... “

    The consecration of a Deaconess is accomplished by the bishop saying: “We call you ( a deaconess for the Holy Coptic Orthodox Church of God.” But for the rank of Consecrated and Assistant Deaconess, the words “We call you” are omitted.

    The signs of the cross are done without mentioning their consecration for a particular church.

    If there is a meeting for children or women, she may teach, but cannot teach men in church or a common meeting attended by men. This is according to the commandment of our teacher St. Paul, “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:12).

    In private masses for nuns or consecrated women, they are not permitted to read the epistles, only the priest or deacon may do so.

    Consecration of the consecrated is done by the bishop, and the priest has no right for consecration in his church without the knowledge of the bishop, as the bishop is responsible for the consecration, not the priest.

    The Rite of Consecration of the Consecrated Women in the Coptic Orthodox Church

    The person approaching for consecration reads the appropriate undertaking, then stands before the sanctuary bowing her head humbly.

    1. Undertaking of the Consecrated  and Assistant Deaconess

    “I the weak ... request my acceptance in the way of consecration for the Coptic Orthodox Church, undertake before the altar of God, and before our father His Holiness Pope ... / His Grace the Metropolitan / His Grace the Bishop, to commit to the commandments of the Holy Bible and the Coptic Orthodox dogma, practicing the Sacrament of Confession and Communion, striving in spiritual life, faithfulness in responsibility, good dealing with others and submission to church leadership, represented by His Holiness Pope ... / His Grace Metropolitan / His Grace the Bishop ...”

    “For as I receive the blessing of being dressed in this garment, ... today, the ...(date) do undertake that the continuation of my dressing is conditional to my commitment to the way of consecration to the end, by the grace of God.”

    Bowing her head, she asks, “Please pray for me. Absolve me, and bless me, my master Your Holiness Pope ... / Your Grace Metropolitan / Your Grace Bishop.”

    This is followed by the Lord’s Prayer and the Thanksgiving Prayer.

    The bishop then says the following prayers:

    2. The Prayers

    “O Lord, wise in His counseling, who created human beings in Your likeness and image: male and female, He created and blessed. We ask You Lord hear us and have mercy upon us.” All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    “Lord who granted sonship to Mary the sister of Moses and Aaron, and to Deborah, Kalda, Anna daughter of Phanuel, and allowed Philip the preacher to have virgin

    daughters who prophesy, we ask You Lord hear and have mercy upon us.” All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    “You who poured Your Holy Spirit on men and women altogether and gave them talents of the Spirit ... We ask You Lord hear us and have mercy upon us.” All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    “Lord who permitted Mary Magdalene to tell Your saintly Apostles about Your glorious resurrection and who allowed Phoebe to become a deaconess in Your Holy church ... as You allowed in the past, Lord allow today, those in Your service, and make us worthy to fulfill this service without falling into condemnation before You, and pour the grace of your Holy Spirit upon them by the grace and compassion ...”

    “Lord God who does not reject women who come forward by the divine will to serve with good intention, and call them Your servants. Grant the grace of Your Holy Spirit to Your maid servants, these who will to give themselves to You, to fulfill Your service, as You granted the grace of this service to Your servant Phoebe, whom You called for work in Your church, so she was a helper to Your servant St. Paul the apostle … Pour on them Your holy gifts, by the grace and compassion...”

    “O eternal Lord, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, look now to Your maid servants, those called for the service of consecration. Give them the Holy Spirit and purify them from all blemishes of body and soul, to be worthy to fulfill the work which You give them.”

    “Glory and worship are due to You and Your Only Begotten son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.”

    “O Lord, Holy Almighty God, who sanctified women by the birth of Your Only Son from the Virgin St. Mary, we ask You Lord ...”. All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    “You who granted the grace of the Holy Spirit, not only to men but to women too. Now Lord look unto Your maid-servants, call them to service and pour upon them the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Keep them in the Orthodox Faith to accomplish Your service continually, without blame according to Your joy. Glory, honor and worship are sent to You O Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    “O Holy God on high, looking to the humble, You who chose the strong and weak, and dignified those in humbleness, Lord send the grace of Your Holy Spirit to Your maid-servants empower them by Your righteousness, so that if they act by Your commandments, and serve in the house of Your holiness, they become Yours, vessels gifted for Your glorification. Grant them power O Lord, to act joyfully according to Your teachings that You drew as a rule for their service. Lord give them the Spirit of meekness, power, praise, bearing and patience, so if they carry Your yoke with joy and struggle patiently, they will be granted the crowns of service.”

    O Lord who knows our weakness, perfect Your maid-servants to serve women, visit the patients and those who do not come to church, serve the poor and needy, help on the Baptismal day of adult women, teach the catechumens, organize women in church, empower them for edification and good example. Sanctify them and enlighten them. Give them wisdom, as You are blessed and glorified O Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    “Lord listen to our prayers and send the blessing of Your Holy Spirit to them, to accomplish Your service without falling into condemnation, and become an example of holy life. Bless them Lord whom You bought by Your Precious Blood ...” All respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    The deacon begins, “From the Lord we ask ...”, and the Bishop completes the prayer, “For the peace of the holy, universal. Apostolic church”, followed by the response, “Lord have mercy.”

    Deacon: “From the Lord we ask...”, Bishop: “For the service of women in church, and poor sick and catechumens”, all respond, “Lord have mercy.”

    Deacon: “From the Lord we ask...”, Bishop: “For those coming forward for the service of consecration, commanded from those presenting them, for the Lord to grant them grace and power, bless their service as He blessed Phoebe before”, followed by the response, “Lord have mercy.”

    “And finally, make us worthy to pray thankfully, ‘Our Father who art in heaven ...’”

    Then the bishop makes the sign of the cross (without laying of hands), three times, saying each time: “( consecrated for the holy Coptic Orthodox Church of God, In the name of the Father ...”, then blesses the service garments (making the sign of the cross on them three times) for them to be clothed.

    The Bishop then says the following commandment :

    “Blessed daughter know that the Lord chose you for the service of consecration for the Holy Church, keep the commandment. Watch always to be blameless, to keep the consecration garment undefiled. Fill your mouth with praise, be always in the fullness of grace through the Holy Sacraments. Be obedient to your father the bishop, and whoever guides you into the way of God. Keep faithfully the dogma and the service to which you are entrusted from the church and may the Lord empower you by His grace, and count you amongst the wise virgins, the blessed brides of Christ.”

    At the end of the Mass, they receive the Holy Communion.

  • And more...

    Assistant Deaconness

    The consecrated person may be promoted to an Assistant Deaconess after at least five years from the date of the Rite of her consecration. Her good manners, obedience, dedication, service and experience are considered with the extent of the efficiency of her work and readiness for the completion of the way of consecration.

    If her promotion to an Assistant Deaconess is approved, the following Rite is performed for her:

    Rite of Consecration of an Assistant Deaconess

    Consecration prayers are performed after the matins (morning raising of incense in a private mass attended by women only.

    Those called for consecration read their special undertaking, previously noted, before the door of the sanctuary, bowing their heads humbly. The bishop prays a thanksgiving prayer, then they stand together while he raises the incense, then starts the prayers of consecration as follows...

    “O Master, Almighty Lord, wise in His counseling, powerful in His deeds, who created man in His image and likeness, created them male and female and blessed them.”

    “We ask and entreat Your goodness O lover of mankind, to accept and bless Your maid-servants coming forward to You humbly, and make them worthy for the service of consecration for the rank of assistant deaconess to help the deaconess with several services specified for them, to serve You with faithfulness and purity to the last breath... By the grace, compassion and love of mankind …” All respond, “Lord have mercy” three times.

    “O God who gave sonship to Mary the sister of Moses, Deborah and Kalda and Anna daughter of Phanuel, and poured on them the talents of the Holy Spirit and made them worthy to serve You an acceptable service. Accept Your maid-servants and pour upon them the talents of Your Holy Spirit, to live a life of consecration and community with all love, peace and faithfulness, and help the deaconesses in the women’s service. Accept their service as a fragrance of incense before You, as You accepted the service of wise women dedicated for the service of the tabernacle, whom You arose their hearts by wisdom so they waved by their hands and brought blue and purple scarlet yarn and fine linen thread necessary for the tabernacle (Exodus 25:37). Keep them by Your right hand from the tribulations and traps of Satan, enemy of all righteousness... By the grace, compassion and love of mankind…” All respond, “Lord have mercy” three times.

    “O Master Lord Jesus Christ our God, who was incarnated from the Virgin and holy saint Mary and made her Queen of the heavenly and earthly. You who accepted the service of the women who followed You, believed in You like Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob and Joses, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, Joanna the wife of Chuja, and Susanna and many others who provided for You” (Matthew 27, and Luke 8).

    “You who accepted the service of the spikenard that was made by Mary the sister of Lazarus, and You praised her and defended her” (John 12).

    “You who accepted the two mites of the poor widow, and praised her as she faithfully gave all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12).

    “You who sent Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to preach Your Saintly apostles of Your Glorious Resurrection.”

    “You who filled the daughters of Philip the preacher by Your Holy Spirit and granted them the grace of sonship and accepted the service of Phoebe, the deaconess of the church of Canchrea, and Tekla the disciple of Your great apostle Paul.”

    “Accept the service of Your maid-servants, grant them the grace of the Holy Spirit, and purify them from all blemishes of body and soul to accomplish reverently the service that the church gives them.”

    “Keep them in the Orthodox faith to fulfill Your service blamelessly according to the joy of Your goodness as glory and honor are due to You for ever Amen.” All respond, “Lord have mercy”, three times.

    “O Holy God living on high and looking to the humble, look now from the loftiness of Your heaven to Your maid-servants. Empower them by Your truth. Keep them by Your grace. Bless them by Your Holy Spirit to walk in Your service faithfully and joyfully according to Your goodness.”

    “Grant them the spirit of humbleness, chastity, purity, power, endurance, bearing, meekness, to endure joyfully Your holy yoke, and fight patiently in the struggle placed before them. And when they have fought the good fight, finished the race and have kept the faith, finally there is laid up for them the crowns of righteousness that are incorruptible and undefiled and that do not fade away... By the grace, compassion and love...” All respond, “Lord have mercy” three times.

    The bishop then makes the sign of the cross on them three times (without laying of hands), saying “...(name) an assistant deaconess in … In the name of the Father ...” He them makes the sign of the cross on her garments three times before she dresses in them.

    They then receive the Holy Communion at the end of the Mass.

    The assistant deaconess is promoted to deaconess after five years of her consecration as assistant deaconess. This promotion is done according to her good manners, obedience, dedication, experience in service, the efficiency of her work and her readiness to complete the way of consecration to the end, with the commitment for the life of virginity or widowhood to the last breath. The promotion to the rank of a complete deaconess is decided by the high committee of affairs of consecrated women.

    If the bishop and the committee of affairs of consecrated women agree to promote her to a deaconess, the following Rite is performed for her:

    The Rite for Consecration of a Deaconess

    The prayers of consecration are performed after the morning raising of incense (matins) in a private mass attended only by women.

    Those called for the rank of deaconess read their special undertaking, then stand before the Sanctuary reverently and humbly.

    The bishop prays the Thanksgiving Prayer and raises incense, before beginning the following prayers from the Apostolic Canons ...

    “O Eternal God Father of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, Creator of man and women, who filled Mary, Deborah, Anna and Khelda by Your Holy Spirit, and did not disdain that Your Only-Begotten Son Jesus Christ is born of a virgin”

    “Now look upon Your servant standing before You, chosen for deaconship. Fill her with Your Holy Spirit. Purify her from every blemish of body and soul.”

    “Honor unto You and Your Christ who is with You, and the Holy Spirit, glory and worship forever, Amen”*.

    (*The words put together by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III when he consecrated some deaconesses at Pentecost on 14/6/1981).

    “O Lord wise in His counseling, who created humans as male and female, created both of them in His own image and likeness and gave them the same blessing and authority over all creatures.”

    “Lord who granted sonship to Mary sister of Moses and Aaron, Deborah, Khalda and Anna daughter of Phannuel, and allowed Philip the preacher to have ten virgins who prophesy.”

    “You who poured Your Holy Spirit upon men and women together and gave the woman spiritual talents like men.”

    “O Lord who sent Mary Magdalene to preach Your saintly apostles of Your glorious Resurrection and allowed Phoebe to become a deaconess in Your Holy church.”

    “As You allowed in the past Lord, please allow the woman to share in Your service today and make us worthy to accomplish this service without falling into condemnation before You, and pour the grace of Your Holy Spirit upon Your maid-servants. By the grace and compassion ...”

    “O Lord God who does not reject women who give themselves - by the approval of the divine will – to serve in Your holy places, but allowed them to be called Your servants. Give the grace of the Holy spirit to Your maid-servants, those who will to give themselves to You to accomplish Your service, as You gave grace of this service to Your servant Phoebe whom You called to work in Your church, so she became a helper to Your servant Paul the apostle.”

    “Pour upon them Your holy talents, by the grace compassion and love ...”

    ”O eternal Lord Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of man and woman, who filled Mary, Deborah, Hanna and Khalda of the Holy spirit, who did not disdain for Your Only Begotten Son to be born of a woman. In the tabernacle and the temple You appoint women to guard Your holy doors. Look now upon Your maid-servants, those called for the service of deaconship. Grant them the grace of the Holy Spirit, purify them from every blemish of body and soul, to accomplish worthily the work given to them. Glory and worship are due to You and Your Only Son and the Holy Spirit for ever, Amen.”

    “O Lord, Almighty, Holy God who sanctified women by the birth of Your Only Begotten Son from a virgin.”

    “O Lord who granted the grace of the Holy Spirit not only to men but to women too.”

    “Now Lord look at Your maid-servants, call them to the service and pour unto them the rich talents of Your Holy spirit. Keep them in the Orthodox Faith fulfilling Your service continually without blemish according to Your goodness. Glory, honor and worship are due to You O Father, Son and Holy Spirit. O Holy God looking towards the humble, who chose the weak and strong and dignified those in humbleness. Send Lord the grace of Your Holy Spirit to Your maid-servants. Empower them by Your truth, so if they obey Your commandments and serve in the house of Your holiness, they become honorable vessels for Your glorification. Give them power, O Lord, to rejoice according to Your teaching that You made as rules for their service. Grant them Lord, the spirit of humbleness, endurance, power and patience so if they carry Your joke with joy and enduring the fight, they may have the crowns of service.”

    “Yes, Lord who knows our weakness, perfect Your maid-servants to praise in Your house and serve women, visit the sick and those absent from church, serve the poor and needy, help adult women for Baptism, teach the catechumens and organize women in church. Empower them for edification and good example. Sanctify them. Enlighten them. Encourage them. As You are blessed and glorified, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

    “Lord listen to our prayers and send for them blessings from the Holy Spirit to accomplish their service without falling into condemnation, and give an example for holy life.”

    “You who gave Anna daughter of Phanuel to spend eighty four years in her widowhood serving blamelessly in the temple. Give Your maid-servants to keep their vows before You, to live in chastity and purity, in obedience to Your commandments and in faithfulness to the service. Grant them to live as brides for You only by the grace of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.”

    From the Lord we ask:

    “For the peace of the Holy, Universal, Apostolic church (from the Lord we ask), for the service of women in church, the poor, the sick and the catechumens.”

    “For those widows and elderly virgins coming forward for the service of deaconship, commended by their churches, for the Lord to grant them grace and power, bless their service as He blessed the service of Phoebe before (From the Lord we ask)”...

    “At last make us worthy to pray thankfully, ‘Our Father who art in heaven....’”

    Then the bishop makes the sign of the cross three times on each deaconess (without laying of hands), while saying: “We call you ( a deaconess in the Holy church. In the name of the Father...” , then blesses the specific service garments (by making the sign of the cross on them three times before they wear them). They then attend the mass and receive the Holy Communion.

    Service of Deaconesses in the Church

    The deaconess can perform many services in the church, such as:

    Helping the priest during the Baptism of elderly adult women (not in the Rite or Prayer but in caring) as the priest has only to place his hand on the baptized woman’s head while she is in the Baptismal font, dipping her thrice in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, then after she gets out of the font, she gets dressed. The priest then comes back and gives her the Sacrament of Myron, anointing only those parts of her body which appear. The presence of a deaconess during the process of a female adult being baptized is preferable, because she may assist her with what should be done before and after Baptism.

    Organizing the seating of women in church

    Organize those coming for Communion, that is, the deaconess must ensure that they must be Coptic Orthodox Christians who practice confession regularly, also modestly dressed for appearance must be carefully regarded if coming to have the Holy Communion. A woman must cover her head and hold a linen veil in her hand as preparation for Communion. Thus she helps the priest for Communion of women.

    Helping in the service of young girls and women in church meetings.

    Visiting young girls and women to encourage them to come to church for masses and meetings.

    She can help in Sunday School Service by attracting children to come through her tenderness.

    She can serve in the church’s child care center, for she would be the best person to endure a child, cherish them and help in their upbringing.

    She can work and serve in various church social services, such as serving widows, needy and poor.

    She can serve the orphans..

    She can work and serve in nursing homes, looking after the needs of the elderly, whether it be food, health, cleaning or nursing.

    Visitation of sick women, whether at their houses or hospitals, giving them a word of comfort, as well as speaking the word of God. She represents the church in caring for them and tells the priest about cases in need of Communion or visitation.

    Supervising women’s activities in church, such as sewing, and so on.

    Supervising the cleaning of the church and organizing its furniture – except for the sanctuary where no woman can enter.

    Supervising administrative departments at the church’s or bishopric’s clinics.

    Supervising youth (girls) houses who are in desperate need of accommodation and care. Their supervision is for their protection and success.

    Service of wayward girls who need spiritual care and guidance.

    Service of handicapped girls or women, to help them live a normal, spiritual and psychological life.
  • WOW.... :o
    that was pretty intense! i never knew there was an actual rite and everything that was done for a deaconness! ok, so this has to be a really old lady...but doesn't service kinda require someone physically able?  ;) i mean, how are you going to do all that stuff when you can barely stand? sure God would strengthen the deaconess once she has been consecrated to Him and His service :D
    what about younger girls? once again, similar to St. Mary, service until the age of 12...they can help the older deaconnesses out!  ;D but they wouldn't be consecrated..just a temporary service :)
    thank you so much fr. peter for your time and insight  :)
    God bless
  • I think that perhaps we need to understand that service in the Church does not require any special ordination. It is the responsibility of us all. We cannot say, 'Well I'd love to go and visit the elderly in the parish, but I am only a young woman, and so I cannot become a deaconess'. Likewise we cannot say, 'I see no reason to go clean the toilets in Church, that's a subdeacon's job'.

    If there is something we can do then we should do it as the Lord leads us.

    It is better to serve the Lord wholeheartedly with no title at all, than to have an important title and pridefully serve ourselves.

    Many who are last will be first, and the first will be last.

    BUT... there is also (perhaps) a place for some sort of society/fellowship of servants (real servants I mean) because belonging to something is also useful, beneficial and encourages us. It could then be something that allowed a temporary membership, not like service according to the diaconate. But it could also provide mentored and spiritually supervised scope for encouraging young people to serve humbly and learn the real lessons of the diaconate of all Christians. This might be something a bishop could institute for his own diocese, or a priest could institute with his bishops blessing, for his own congregation, under his own oversight, and perhaps that of older trusted deacons and deaconesses, or widows etc. It could provide opportunties for humble service, requiring getting ones hands dirty, but in a spiritual context of prayer.

    Just an idea. And the ranks of deacons would be filled from those who proved themselves in service rather than those who just happened to be born male.

    Father Peter
  • oh well that makes sense! i can sort of relate to that...
    we have a group of women who take care of the food on Sundays (i know, not exactly what we were talking about, but its still service) and they alternate among one another every week.
    so yeah! that would be great to do as an actual official group, like the sunday school servants group but it would be exclusive to services to the church.
    thanks again

    God bless
  • @lvnvrfails13,

    Which church do you go to?
    What you have described is smillar in my church (little deacons- one response, N. America, women making food on Sunday)
    Hope this isn't to personal.
    Sorry for getting off topic.
    God bless, Pray for me,

  • Cyril97,

    Your description of a church narrows down your search to 100% of all COC's in North America. You will find the little deacons and women making food in the majority (if not all) the churches.

    I do believe, though, lvnvrfails13 has already stated that he/she goes to a church in South Carolina.
  • Lol
    I just thought/ wished it would be better in other churches...(deacons...)
    Anyways, I just wanted to know...
    I am personnaly not afraid/ worried to say which church I am from.
    St. Mary and St. Athanasius, Mississauga, Ontario
  • Since you are not worried, i will be searching for you tonight since you don't really care. I will also break into your house and steal all of your Kholagies and Agpeyas. LOL. Being anonymous on the internet is a good decision, trust me, you need to be careful what info you put on public forums. Sorry to get off topic, just wanted to say that.
  • [quote author=lvnvrfails13 link=topic=10288.msg125511#msg125511 date=1293489046]
    ok, so this has to be a really old lady...but doesn't service kinda require someone physically able?  ;) i mean, how are you going to do all that stuff when you can barely stand? sure God would strengthen the deaconess once she has been consecrated to Him and His service :D

    Gee, I don't know if I would call someone who is post-menopausal as being "old".  Quite a bit of them are quite functional.  They take care of families, go to work, once in a while go shopping, etc.  I know many "old" people who can do spins and cartwheels around some of the lazy and negligent youth.

    I'm not attacking you.  I'm just putting things into perspective.
  • Just to back up ilovesaintmark's comments:

  • Thanks Geo.  I'm glad someone's got my back and not stabbing it.
  • don't worry i stab from the front. lol
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