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Celebrating the Ancient Women Deacons


During the first nine centuries of its existence, the Catholic Church ordained women to the full sacramental diaconate. Tens of thousands of women deacons served in churches and cathedrals throughout Palestine, Asia Minor, Greece, Dalmatia, Cyprus and Southern Italy. For more information, click here!

We have reconstructed the ancient ordination rite, to demonstrate that it was a true ordination. The function took place on Saturday, 18 January 2003, 12.00 noon – 14.30 pm at St. James Piccadilly in the centre of London.

This celebration was jointly sponsored by Catholic Women’s Ordination, UK, the Catholic Internet Library on Women Priests and Canterbury Press.

Brief outline of the celebration

1. Calling on the first-millennnium Women Deacons to be witnesses.
Women Deacons mentioned on tombstones
Litany of Women Deacons saints

2. The Ordination Rite. The script for the reconstruction can be found here.
The following stages were re-enacted and commented upon:
∎ the setting of the ordination
∎ the ‘Divine Grace’ proclamation
∎ the first ordination prayer
∎ the litany by the archdeacon
∎ the second ordination prayer
∎ the imposition of the diaconate stole
∎ receiving holy communion

3. Visit to the baptistry. Reconstruction of the baptismal ceremony with commentary:
∎ preparatory rites
∎ the anointing with the oil of catechumens
∎ the immersion and epiclesis
∎ reception and anointing with chrism

4. Presentation of the book

No Women in Holy Orders? The Ancient Women Deacons”

concluding ceremonies

5. Agape.

A report of the function was published in NETWORK. See here.