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Celebrating the Ancient Women Deacons

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 are going to reconstruct the ancient ordination rite, to demonstrate that it was a true ordination. The function will take place on Saturday, 18 January 2003, 12.00 noon - 14.30 pm at St. James Piccadilly in the centre of London.

This celebration is 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.

2. The Ordination Rite reconstructed. The following stages are 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.

  • presentation of the book
  • concluding ceremonies

5. Agape.

Read here John Wijngaards’ publication list.

Introduction? Overview? Manuscripts? Search?
Full documentation on all the ancient
Women Deacon Texts
is now available in print!


Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.


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