The Service of Women
The role of women is clear in the New Testament. For example, Phoebe was a deaconess helping St. Paul (Rom 16:1-2). Priscilla and her husband Aquila welcomed Apollos and explained to him the way of the Lord; this was evangelism (Acts 18:26). St. Thecla was a deaconess and disciple of St. Paul, who assigned her to serve in her original homeland. She spent all her life in service and faced many tribulations and torture, but the Lord saved her every time. The Coptic Church commemorates her on the 23rd of Thoout.
The service of consecrated deaconesses in church was abolished in the 13th century. 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 consecrating a large number of deaconesses to serve in churches in Cairo. Even earlier than that during the time of His Holiness Pope Kyrillos VI, His Grace Bishop Athanasius had begun consecrating women as “serving nuns.” Today many bishops have consecrated sisters for the service within their dioceses.
The Service of Consecrated Sisters
- Helping the priest during the Baptism of adult 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 liturgy and meetings
- She can help in Sunday School Service and activities for the children and girls
- She can serve in a church childcare center
- 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
- Visiting 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
- Supervising the cleaning of the church as well as organization
- Supervising administrative departments at the church or bishopric clinics
- Supervising youth (girls) houses, where girls are in desperate need of accommodation and care. Their supervision is for their protection and success
- Service of girls who need spiritual care and guidance
- Service of handicapped girls or women, to help them live a healthy, spiritual and psychological life
- Organizing the seating of women in church and organizing those coming for Holy Communion
- She can help in counseling services