There are 4 stages a Consecrated Sister may go through:

  1. Novice
  2. Consecrated Sister
  3. Subdeaconess
  4. Deaconess

Not every consecrated sister necessarily goes through all four steps; they may stop after stage 2, or stage 3, or stage 4. 

When it is time for the novice to become consecrated, the Rite of Consecration of the Consecrated Women is prayed over her. The consecration, which is done by the bishop, is performed without the laying on of hands, which is different from priestly ordinations. Unlike the deacons, the prayers for consecrated sisters do not take place after the Reconciliation Prayer, but after the morning Raising of Incense. In the Southern Diocese, the novice is differentiated from the consecrated sister by a different-colored garment; novices are dressed in light gray and consecrated sisters are dressed in dark gray. 

The consecrated sister may be promoted to subdeaconess 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 subdeaconess is approved, the appropriate Rite is performed for her. 

The subdeaconess may be promoted to deaconess after five years of her consecration as subdeaconess. 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 appropriate Rite is performed for her.

Excerpt from the Prayers of the Rite of Consecration:

 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 maidservants, 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 maidservants, those called for the service of consecration. Give them the Holy Spirit and purify them from all blemish 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 have mercy.

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 maidservants, 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 maidservants, 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.

Yes, O Lord who knows our weakness, perfect Your maidservants 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: “(Name), consecrated for the holy Coptic Orthodox Church of God, In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” 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.*

*Priesthood, His Grace Bishop Mettaous