Category Archives: female deacon

Deaconess Presentation Made to Ecumenism Metro Chicago

St. Phoebe Center Board Member Helen Theodoropoulos recently made a presentation on the deaconess to Ecumenism Metro Chicago (EMC).  Formerly known as The Ecumenical Millennium Committee, EMC was formed in 1999 to promote and to pray for a more ecumenical millennium. It is currently comprised of 20 judicatories or communions in addition to the Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries organization.

Nearly a dozen officers from the various Christian communities attended, including the director of the education program for Roman Catholic deacons. “They were very supportive,” Helen said, also noting that attendees requested a copy of her PowerPoint presentation.

Visit the Ecumenism Metro Chicago Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/ecumenismmetrochicago/

“Narthex of the Deaconesses in the Hagia Sophia”


This paper by Neil K. Moran explores the ceiling rings in the western end of the north aisle in the Hagia Sophia, revealing a rectangular space delineated by curtain rings, and proposing that the southeast corner of the church was assigned to forty deaconesses.  An analysis of the music sources in which the texts are fully written out suggests that the deaconesses took part in the procession of the Great Entrance as well as in rituals in front of the ambo. Read the article.

 

 

Chicago Regional Presentation: “The Deaconess in the Orthodox Church”

A regional presentation was made at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Glenview, Illinois by St. Phoebe Center Board Member Dr. Helen Creticos Theodoropoulos, April 5, 2017 as part of the parish’s 2017 Lenten Lecture Series.

In spite of the bad weather, approximately 40 people attended the presentation, and later commented that not only did they learn a great deal about the ancient role of the deaconess, but were “most amazed” with the history of women in the Church.

Access the recorded presentation here.
Access the PDF PowerPoint here.

If you are interested in hosting a regional presentation in your area, please contact us at stphoebecenter at gmail dot com.

Shared Ministry and Divine Grace: Restoring the Diaconate in Orthodoxy

by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko

The Orthodox world is buzzing with the recent news report on the ordination of deaconesses in the Patriarchate of Alexandria. To the best of our knowledge, the ordination occurred after the Divine Liturgy in the nave of the temple, and appears to resemble the rite used to ordain subdeacons. This rite includes the presentation of the orarion, handlaying, a prayer, and the washing of the bishop’s hands. The reports do not offer details on the prayer said by the Patriarch. It seems that the Patriarch did not use the Byzantine Rite for the ordination of a deaconess, which takes place at the end of the anaphora (before the deacon intones the litany before the Lord’s Prayer, “Having remembered all the saints”), in the altar, and includes the deaconesses receiving Communion with the other clergy in the altar, according to order. While Patriarch Theodoros II appeared to use the rite for the ordination of subdeacons, the Patriarchate of Alexandria is referring to these newly-ordained women as deaconesses, and has appointed them to perform crucial sacramental and catechetical ministries as part of the Patriarchate’s missionary work.

The ordination of these five deaconesses in Alexandria marks a turning point in the discussion about the order of deaconess within the Orthodox Church. To date, the restoration of the female diaconate has been limited to discussion, deliberation, and study – not to mention heated debate. With this ordination, we now have a historical episode of ordination and appointment to ministry, a pattern for what the female diaconate could become. Will the Alexandrian ordination become the new rite for the order of deaconess, or will the Church dust off the Byzantine rite of the ordination of a deaconess? What other ministries might the deaconesses execute? We do not know the answers to these questions. We do know that the debate on the female diaconate is going to intensify.

As part of an ongoing research project, I’ve been asking Orthodox lay women and men for their opinions about the restoration of the order of deaconess. The responses seem to fit the positions presented by ideologues in the debate. Some people argue that restoring the order of deaconess is a legitimate application of ressourcement, of drawing upon our liturgical and ecclesiological history to appoint ministers who contribute to the building up of the body of Christ through particular gifts. Others depict the attempt to restore the deaconess as a trojan horse strategy to inject secular egalitarian values into the Church’s political theology. Others are unsure: one lay woman remarked that Orthodoxy “has the Panagia, and the Greek Orthodox Church has the Philoptochos Society – women essentially run the Church – why do we need a female diaconate?”

In reflecting on these responses, I was struck by the impression that very few people asked how the ministry of the deaconess would complement the current work done by bishops, presbyters, and deacons.

An honest appraisal of the orders of our Church demonstrates a reality: we are a presbyteral Church. For the vast majority of Orthodox Christians, the experience of Church ministry begins and ends with the priest. This experience might have diverse dimensions in various Orthodox Churches, especially those with deacons or in the proximity of a monastery, but the fact remains that the priest is essentially a “one-man band” in the Church. The priest presides at all liturgical offices; the priest anoints the sick and brings them Communion; the priest offers catechesis and preaches; the priest hears confessions and imparts spiritual direction; the priest functions as the local expert on Orthodoxy. The laity are charged with leading liturgical singing, taking care of the Church building, and handling financial issues, and in situations where the laity or a parish deacon exercise ministry, it occurs only under the supervision and with the blessing of the priest.

Many of the priests I have come to know over the years have expressed frustration on the absence of assistance in parish ministry. Most priests long for an associate or assistant priest; others want a deacon; some have taken the healthy step of sharing their ministry with the laity, by deputizing lay women and men to visit the sick in the hospital and pray with them, and blessing laity to pray the Liturgy of the Hours without a priest. Even rectors of small parishes feel strained, especially when they have other employment obligations to satisfy the daily needs of their families.

The Orthodox Church is a Church of orders: our body of Christ has the orders of laity, episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate. Each order has its own distinct ministry designed to contribute to the building up of the communion of the Holy Spirit. A significant feature of the rites of ordination to the order of bishop, priest, deacon, and deaconess – but not subdeacon – is the ancient “Divine Grace” formula: “The Divine Grace, which always heals that which is inform and supplies what is lacking, appoints the [designated order] N., beloved by God, as [designated order]. Let us pray therefore that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come upon him/her” (translation, adapted from Paul Bradshaw, Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West [Pueblo, 1990], 133).  The presiding bishop calls upon the “Divine grace” to supply what is lacking, a reference to God appointing this particular minister to work in the Lord’s vineyard. The Divine Grace has always supplied men and women to “supply what is lacking” in the Church.

Something is lacking in Orthodox pastoral ministry: there is a dire need for the Church to appeal to God to supply people who can fill that which is “lacking” in the life of the Church, because priests cannot do it all. For centuries, the Church has depended almost solely on the work of the priests. I do not mean to dismiss the life-giving contributions made by bishops and deacons in the Church; my message is an appeal for all who are invested in ecclesiology, mission, and the question of the female diaconate to acknowledge the proverbial “elephant in the room.” How much more blood might be given to the Church were we to expand the diaconal ministry beyond liturgical performance, aesthetically-pleasing as it is?

The Patriarchate of Alexandria appears to be responding to pastoral needs in the life of the Church through action. Their example indicates that building up the body of Christ supersedes our ideological debates about gender and power – the world needs people who are willing to bear Christ’s Divine Grace to them by offering their particular gifts to the Church, to supply that which is lacking. The debate on the need for a female diaconate is sure to continue. For those of us willing to continue the debate, it is essential that we assess all of the orders of the Church and imagine how they might work together so that each order – laity, episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate – is truly working with the others to be the body of Christ. If we want this body of Christ to be healthy, and to be animated in working for the life of the world by the grace of God, the time has arrived for us to be honest about how the parts of the body we do not exercise enough might be rehabilitated and strengthened so that the body does not depend solely on priests. The life of the Church does not depend on ideological absolutism: it depends on the offerings of Christ as the head together with the rest of the Church.

Nicholas Denysenko is Associate Professor of Theological Studies and Director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University. He is an ordained deacon of the Orthodox Church in America. He is scheduled to speak at the St. Phoebe Conference “Renewing the Male and Female Diaconate in the Orthodox Church” October 6-7, 2017 in Irvine, California.

Orthodoxy, African Deaconesses, and Missed Opportunities

by Kerry San Chirico

The headline from the official news agency of the Romanian Patriarchate read, “Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria performs first consecration of deaconesses.” There were mostly heartened and hopeful responses on my Facebook feed. I “liked” the page in the formal if shallow Facebook sense. As such news inevitably takes time to digest, those with keen eyes began to weigh in. “This is not an ordination but a consecration,” one scholar reminded us, noting critical differences between the words cheiriothesia (blessing) and and cheirotonia (ordination). Another pointed out that, given the photographic evidence, this rite was more akin to ordination of a subdeacon, a minor order. Was this then a minor occurrence? Some might wish that.

The whole thing took me back to days of the Soviet Union, when Western observers were forced to determine who was out of the capricious Soviet inner circle solely by looking at photos of waving Politburo members at the annual May Day parade. And this was amusing because we now live in the 21st century, and it’s not as though this liturgy was occurring in North Korea. I began to wonder, Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were some mechanism by which the various autocephalous Orthodox Churches could communicate with one another? Wouldn’t it be something if there was a global forum whereby Orthodox laypeople and clergy could assemble, discuss topical issues affecting the Church and world today, and propose solutions to problems great and minor? And this got me thinking about last summer’s fraught “Great and Holy Council,” with its absent patriarchs and rationalizations for sin that would get called out by any good father confessor. I was returned to a summer of so many missed opportunities—and for reckoning with hard truths about Orthodoxy today, as it really exists.

Patriarch Theodoros II and those he leads in Africa are obviously taking care of the felt needs of Orthodoxy in a landmass that could comfortably fit the United States, Eastern Europe, India, China, and Japan. Whether it was “consecration” or “ordination”—an important distinction, but still inside baseball to most—the point is that the decision reflects a verity about the Church in Africa: it is growing, just as it is for the Roman Catholic Church and the many Protestant churches, to say nothing of the rapid growth of Islam. Christianity is now well into a major demographic shift whose implications most have yet to fully comprehend. It is a fact now popularized in books by Philip Jenkins in The New Faces of Christianity (2006) and The Next Christendom (2011) that the geographical locus of Christianity has shifted to the world’s Southern and Eastern Hemispheres. Consider that in 1910 Christians in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 10% of the total population; by 2010 that figure had risen to 63%. The Democratic Republic of Congo, location of the consecrations, has one of the top ten largest Christian populations in the world, with some 63.15 million believers. (Germany has 58.24 million Christians). While this shift may be lost on many non-Global Southerners and Easterners who spend much time hand-wringing over emptying and desiccated churches, it is apparently not lost on African Orthodox who have work to do and quite often lack the human and material resources to do it.

Frankly, some will never be convinced enough about the female diaconate to do anything about it here. It is curious that in the church that so prizes the normative weight of beliefs and practices of the early church, a time of active deaconesses, the burden of proof is placed on those seeking female diaconal restoration. Yet by our own historical reckoning, the burden of proof should fall on those arguing against the female diaconate and on those doing nothing to actively reinstate it. It is they who need to reasonably explain why deaconesses should no longer be part of Orthodox ecclesial life.

Throughout North American parishes male clergy are often forced to try to do almost everything by themselves. The married priest is liturgist, financial planner, spiritual father, biblical scholar, teacher, social worker, hospital chaplain, parish secretary, biological father, and husband. These men are understandably exhausted. Some leave the ministry altogether; I know them. Meanwhile, women are also doing the serious work of church—but they usually don’t get recognized for it. Why then do we not formalize their ministry, inspiring other women (and men) for a life of ecclesial service? Speaking about the women, Patriarch Theodoros explained, “We need them.” Do we not?

The female diaconate is not about mere or more recognition. It’s about meeting needs often left unaddressed because they go unmentioned, or because resources are tight, or because we are deaf to those voices refusing to shout. It’s about the normalization of lack and becoming so accustomed to the status quo that we fail to envision how enriched we would be by deaconesses in our midst. It is, as Carrie Frederick Frost argued in Public Orthodoxy, a failure of imagination. It is also a failure of leadership.

We are observing the Patriarch and African Synod do the needful. Admittedly, I am much more familiar with South Asia, but I can imagine these new deaconesses serving both women and men in various ways. See them traversing villages, seeking medical attention, visiting the sick, catechizing, remonstrating against abusive husbands, even (wait for it) praying out demons. They are doing diakonia—and one need not serve in the altar to do that. So why don’t we follow the lead of the African Church? What’s the hold up? All excuses now ring hollow. The refusal of the Church in North America to deal with the pressing needs of our parishes and society are calling the truth claims of our tradition into question. When the gap between the ideal and real widens to such an extent that the cognitive dissonance simply cannot be shaken, we are in real trouble. People become disillusioned. They leave without the fanfare of a podcast.

When I reflect upon the photo of those earnest women facing the iconostasis in expectation, I cannot help but think we are watching a Church embracing its mission. It is a Church more fully appreciating the contributions of more than half its members. It is the Church of the future and, as the numbers show, the present.

Meanwhile, here on this side of the world, one fears we are letting opportunities pass us by. Dubious notions of inevitable “progress” aside, there is certainly no guarantee Orthodoxy in North America will ever flourish. And we are way past the rhetoric of Orthodoxy being America’s best-kept secret. It’s not such a secret any more. Last summer, news of our Council spread far and wide. One Roman Catholic theologian told me he used to point to Orthodoxy as an alternative model of conciliar polity. “Now we’re not so sure,” he said soberly. In the age of the Internet, things are perhaps more public than we would want. There is then no place for triumphalism here, just the hardest thing to do in the world—to see things as they really are in our selves, communities, country, world, and Church.  We cannot do it alone. Africa can show us the way. Ss. Tatiana, Olympias, and Foebe, pray for us.

Kerry San Chirico is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University.

This article originally appeared on Public Orthodoxy, a publication of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University.

“Women Willing to Offer Themselves”: The Historic Consecration of Deaconesses in Africa

by Carrie Frederick Frost, St. Phoebe Board Member
published in The Wheel Journal
March 2, 2017

Several Orthodox women were made deaconesses in Democratic Republic of Congo on February 17, 2017. Though this is a remarkable and historical event not just in African Orthodoxy, but in Orthodoxy the world over, it took about five days for this news to travel into English-speaking quarters of the Church. This time lag is indicative of both the lack of communication channels among international theologians and hierarchs and the independent character of each of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches. The Synod of Alexandria, which had moved in November of 2016 to pursue the revival of the female diaconate, needed neither permission from, nor consultation with any other part of the Church to grant these women diaconal ministry earlier this month.

The information on the consecration of the deaconesses is scant. It appears that they were not ordained into a major order (cheirotonia) because their consecration took place at the end of Liturgy (rather than during it) and because the photographs show the laying on of hands by His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa happening at his throne, rather than at the altar (as during an ordination). Instead, it is likely understood in the Synod of Alexandria that these women were blessed into a minor order (cheirothesia), more like the sub-diaconate. The association with the sub-diaconate is further evidenced by photos showing the women holding bowls like male sub-deacons hold during their reception into the sub-diaconate (and, at the end of Liturgy, present to the faithful the blessed water therein so that they may bless themselves). All these signs not withstanding, these women are being referred to as deaconesses, not sub-deaconesses.

The information about the women themselves is also scant. One woman is named, Theano, and is described as a “Catechist elder” and one of the first members of the mission staff at the Missionary Centre of Kolwezi. She was given the title, “Deaconess of the Missions.” It appears that five other women were also made deaconesses, and are understood to be entering “ecclesiastic ministry” to help with missionary efforts including adult baptism, marriage, and catechism. From these descriptions, it seems like Deaconess of the Missions Theano may have a different ministry from the five others, with their “ecclesiastic ministry,” which would be in keeping with the historical record which shows deaconesses performing a variety of tasks according to personal talents and local needs.

Three of the newly consecrated deaconesses are nuns, and, from the photos, none of the deaconesses appears to be particularly long in years. This is of significance because the canons on the books about deaconesses call for a forty years of age minimum, and any revival of the female diaconate must address whether this restriction applies to today’s circumstances and needs.

As the apostles and the early Christians knew well, it is never easy to be the first person, or first group of people, to do something. This move to consecrate deaconesses in the Synod of Alexandria took courage. It took the courage of the Synod, as well as the courage of its leader, His Beatitude Theodoros II, who consecrated these women himself. It took the courage of the local hierarch, Metropolitan Meletios of Katanga.  But the courage that is most luminous is that of these women themselves, who are stepping forward into entirely unchartered territory in their Church and in their communities.

An extant ordination rite for deaconesses states, “O Lord and Master, you do not reject women who are willing to offer themselves, in so far as it is fitting, to minister in your holy houses, but rather you accept them into the rank of ministers.” Deaconess of the Missions Theano and her sister deaconesses are truly “women who are willing to offer themselves.” It is my prayer that they are gracefully and lovingly accepted into the ranks of ministers, and that more women soon join them in Africa, and around the Orthodox world.

Women Deacons in Africa; Not in America

by Carrie Frederick Frost

History was made on February 17, 2017 when five women were consecrated deaconesses in the Orthodox Church. For many of us, this is a welcome but shocking development.

Speaking for myself, I expected the reintroduction of a female diaconate to occur in Greece, or elsewhere in Europe, or, even more likely, the United States; say, Pittsburgh. These are the places with multiple advocacy groups and a robust academic investigation into the history and pastoral function of the female diaconate.

Frankly, I anticipated—in a most unexamined way—the first Orthodox deaconess of our era would be white woman. (Let me pause and be clear, lest my readers be distracted: even though I am a white American woman advocating for the female diaconate, I have neither call nor desire to serve in this way.)

I now know that I suffered a serious failure of imagination.

The historic consecration of deaconesses this February took place in the African interior: in the Democratic Republic of Congo, part of the Synod of Alexandria. The five women who made history are Africans.

My own biases and insular experiences of Orthodoxy in America and Europe have limited me, and I am humbled.

The other factor that has limited me, and others interested in this topic, is the lack of international Orthodox forums for communication among hierarchs, scholars, and interested laypersons. As far as I can tell, no one in the English-speaking parts of the Church knew about the new deaconesses until a few days after they had been consecrated. Also, none of us working on the issue knew that the Alexandrian Synod was even considering this matter prior to its decision to revive the female diaconate a few months ago.

There are two questions I find very interesting: Why there? And why not here?

Why has the female diaconate been revived specifically in Africa, and why (or how) so swiftly? Though very little is known so far about the specific women consecrated at the Missionary Centre of Kolwezi, a news release states that one, Theano, will be given the title “Deaconess of the Missions,” and that the other deaconesses will help with missionary efforts including adult baptism, marriage, and catechism. It appears that these women were “blessed” to the diaconate, rather than “ordained,” yet they are being referred to as “deaconesses” rather than “sub-deaconesses.” It will be fascinating to learn about the mode of their consecration as more information makes its way to us in the US.

It also appears that their work will be deeply tied to the missionary efforts of the Orthodox Church in this part of Africa, which has been active since the 1950s and has more than a hundred parishes.  Bishop Athanasios Akunda of neighboring Kenya told me back when the Synod initially voted to revive the female diaconate: “Women are all over in our ministry. What is being done [making them deaconesses] is just confirmation for them to do their work not in fear. Yes, we need them.” I suspect that it is more comfortable for deaconesses in Africa (rather than deacons or priests) to assist with missionary matters like adult female baptism. Other issues of modesty and the culturally appropriate nature of woman-to-woman ministry may be informing these consecrations.

It is noteworthy just how quickly the Alexandrian Synod moved. After voting to revive the female diaconate in November of 2016, it consecrated its first deaconesses three and half months later.  In Orthodox time, that is a supersonic pace.

Though I had a failure of imagination in my own vision of the future female diaconate, happily this was not the case in Africa; the Alexandrian Synod saw a pastoral need and took decisive action.

Why has the female diaconate not been revived here in the US, despite active engagement and advocacy with this issue by scholars, laypeople, clergy, and even some hierarchs?

There is clearly a need for it. The American Church should ratify and bless the ministry that, in some cases, is already taking place. The Church should formally recognize and value the work that women offer as service (diakonia): feeding the poor, visiting the sick, praying with those in prison—work that is often valued and remunerated by secular society but not by the Church.

Perhaps most importantly, women need woman-to-woman ministry. This is not a need exclusive to modesty requirements during adult baptism in fourth-century Jerusalem or to missionary efforts in contemporary Katanga. There are so many challenging or important situations in which I believe most women need the ministrations of a woman rather than a man, such as: domestic violence, marital problems, miscarriage, sexual abuse, rape, menstruation, childbirth, lactation, care of the elderly, and gynecological illnesses. Every priest should be trained in, say, how to compassionately counsel a woman who has miscarried; I am not suggesting that all the male clergy step away from these matters (in fact, they would benefit from having female colleagues who have direct experience with these things). However, I would think this would be a place that the most traditional and the most progressive minded among us might agree: does it not make sense, for example, to have a trained and vetted deaconess who is overseen by her bishop and called to this work to minister to a young woman who miscarries her first pregnancy at twenty weeks?

There are many convincing reasons to revive the female diaconate, in my opinion, but the real need for woman-to-woman ministry is high on my list. For bishops and synods (other than Alexandria) to offer anodyne statements to the effect that the female diaconate ‘ought to be investigated,’ instead of dedicating effort into actively creating a female diaconate for the twenty-first century implies willful ignorance of real need, as well as a failure of not just courage, but also of imagination.

Even in the midst of this failure of imagination, there is—for me—no absence of delight in these recent events. I am rejoicing in the Lord that the needs of the Church are being acknowledged and that my sisters-in-Christ are being courageously and imaginatively honored in their call to diaconal ministry in the Orthodox Church in the Diocese of Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo, Synod of Alexandria. May their courage and imagination be contagious!

Carrie Frederick Frost, PhD is a scholar of Orthodox theology, Professor of Theology at Saint Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary, and a Board Member of Saint Phoebe Center for the Deaconess.

Patriarchate of Alexandria’s Blessing of Deaconesses Inspires Encouraging Response from Distinguished Theologian, Emeritus Professor Evangelos Theodorou

Submitted by:
Presvytera Dr. Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald

During a telephone interview on Saturday, February 18th, 2017, the distinguished theologian, Emeritus Professor Evangelos Theodorou of the University of Athens School of Theology, respected authority of liturgical theology and the historiography of the ordination of deaconesses shared his appraisal regarding the recent blessing of deaconesses for the Orthodox Church in Africa to assist in the mission field.

For the original news release, see:

http://basilica.ro/en/patriarch-theodoros-of-alexandria-performs-first-consecration-of-deaconesses/

Professor Theodorou emphasized that,

This is a fresh and important step. The Synod’s decision to respond to pressing contemporary pastoral need is rooted in much prayer, study and discussion. As the Holy Apostles in the Book of Acts guided by the Holy Spirit responded to the pressing needs of the Church in their context, so likewise, guided by the Holy Spirit, is the Holy Synod of Alexandria responding to this and other needs confronting the growing Orthodox Church in Africa.

The original news release indicates these devout and tested women were received with a cheirothesia (laying on of hands), apparently similar to a sub-deacon. While no orarion (diaconal stole) was conferred on the candidates, the beautiful photographs nevertheless, depict the new (sub)deaconesses wearing the sub-diaconal towel on their heads and carrying the sub-deacon’s water-bowl. This is truly significant and lovely!

That these newly appointed lay-ministers are identified as “deaconesses”, follows an important historical precedent. For example, “monastic-deaconesses” (nuns appointed as sub-deaconesses) ministered to incarcerated women in jails and prisons on behalf of the Archdiocese of Athens (1930’s).

This action undertaken by the Patriarchate of Alexandria, indeed is a wise first step.  God-willing, may they sooner rather than later discern throughcheirotonia (ordination) faithful and tested female servants of God to the diaconate; as were St. Phoebe (1st c.), St. Olympias (4th c), St. Irene of Chrysovalanton (9th c) and numerous other holy women.

The Professor advised Saint Catherine’s Vision’s 2014 international: Call for the Rejuvenation of the Ministry of the Ordained Deaconess . Together with SCV he emphasized,

…The deaconess can serve the ever-expanding needs of the local church under the direction of the bishop. She can assist in areas such as pastoral care, education, mission, and philanthropy. She can expand the outreach of the church particularly through evangelism and witness as well as care for the sick, destitute and unchurched. She can bear witness to the values of the Gospel in the wider society.

Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria performs first consecration of deaconesses

On the feast of the Saint and Great Martyr Theodore of Tyre, 17 February 2016, the day on which His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa celebrates his name day, a festive Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Holy Church of St Nicholas, within the Missionary Centre of Kolwezi.

Together with the Alexandrian Primate concelebrated Their Eminences Nicephorus, Metropolitan of Kinshasa, Innocent, Metropolitan of Burundi and Rwanda, and the local Metropolitan Meletios of Katanga, accompanied by the Clergy of the Hy Metropolis.

As the official site of the Patriarchate reports, His Beatitude the Patriarch spoke during his homily about the Great Martyr St Theodoros, emphasising the confession of martyrdom before the persecutors of faith and his love for Jesus Christ.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy the Primate of the Alexandrian Throne consecrated the Catechist elder Theano, one of the first members of the Missionary staff in Kolwezi, to “Deaconess of the Missions” of the Holy Metropolis of Katanga and read the prayer for one entering the “ecclesiastic ministry” for three Nuns and two Catechists, in order for them to assist the missionary effort of the Holy Metropolis, particularly in the Sacraments of Baptisms of adults and marriages, as well as in the Catechetical department of the local Church.

Note that it is the first time in the history of Missions in Africa that these consecrations have been done.

See more photos and original story here.