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Church

Metropolis of Zimbabwe Ordains its First Female Deaconess

ZIMBABWE – A woman who was recently ordained as a deaconess in the Orthodox Church has been added to the staff of the Metropolis of Zimbabwe, as reported by the religious news agency Romfea.gr, which is based in Athens.

Deaconess Angeliki was ordained on Holy Thursday, May 2 at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa by Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe.

“At first, I was nervous about going into the sanctuary, but when Metropolitan Seraphim blessed me to enter the sanctuary as part of my preparation, those feelings disappeared, and I felt comfortable. I am ready,” said the deaconess, describing her feelings. The local community welcomed her positively.

Snapshot from the historic ordination of Deaconess Angeliki in Alexandria, Egypt. PHOTO: ROMFEA.GR

The activities of Deaconess Angeliki, as well as future deacons in Africa, will involve liturgical and pastoral responsibilities, according to Metropolitan Seraphim. “She will do what the deacon does in the Liturgy and in all the mysteries in our Orthodox services. Her specific duties will address the particular needs of the parishes in Zimbabwe. One of the most important areas of the deaconess’s work [in the ancient Orthodox church] was the practice of acts of love. They were angels of mercy and visiting sisters to the sick, the mourners, and poor women, conveying to them the gifts of Christian love. Deaconesses visited imprisoned Christians, offering them whatever they could,” said His Eminence.

Snapshot from the historic ordination of Deaconess Angeliki in Alexandria, Egypt. PHOTO: ROMFEA.GR

According to orthodox wiki.org “in the early Church it is highly likely that deaconesses performed the same liturgical role as deacons, and quite likely more, because of the taboo on (male) priests touching female neophytes, or touching females requiring the sacrament of holy oil for the sick.” It is reminded, however, that functions have been added to the role of deacons through the centuries. Orthodoxwiki.org noted that “it seems from the scant material available that the Russian Church has always had deaconesses” and “still has deaconesses” and that “the Church of Greece has had deaconesses intermittently over the recent centuries, and appears to have usually had deaconesses in its female monasteries from time immemorial. In 2004 the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece officially restored the female diaconate.”

The National Herald has been in communication with the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Metropolitan Panteleimon of Ptolemais. It was stated that an official announcement from the Patriarchate was forthcoming.

(Photos and text from Romfea.gr was used for this report)

Snapshot from the historic ordination of Deaconess Angeliki in Alexandria, Egypt. PHOTO: ROMFEA.GR

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