The Orthodox Pages
Father Christopher, your blessing.
I am writing from
Canada and I am an Orthodox Christian of Greek Cypriot descent. My name is
Basilios and I am 18 years old. I came across your wonderful website and
noticed that you have a Sister Mariam at your Church as a Deaconess. Is
she a properly Ordained Deaconess as St. Nectarius had in Aegina? I have
heard that the Church of Greece has been thinking of reinstating this
Order to the Church just as she had in Ancient times.
Answer to Question
Greetings in Christ.
Thank you for your email and the kind words for my website.
The answer to your
question is No, Sister Mariam is not an Ordained Deaconess. She has the
blessing to serve the Sanctuary, in other words, to clean the Sanctuary
and prepare the censor, the lanterns and other small chores. But because
you live in the west (I also was born and raised in London) it is
essential to make clear that at no time have the Deaconesses of the
Orthodox Church taken part in the Divine Liturgy as a Deacon or as they do
in the Anglican church. During the first centuries of persecution, the
Deaconesses had the blessing to give Holy Communion to the people, and as
women, it was much easier for them to pass through the prisons and give
Communion to the Christian prisoners. Also they were indispensable during
the Baptisms of Adult women and would anoint the bodies with the Exorcised
oil, something which understandably was not permitted for the Priests to
do. Today, our Church doesn't have the need of the Deaconesses of old, but
if we were again to have times of persecution (something which the Church
of Russia suffered in contemporary History), then the Order of the
Deaconess could again serve the Church.