A Brief Apologia for Deaconesses

Traditionally recognized in Anglican circles by her distinctive blue habit with its white collar, unique cross, and oftentimes veiled, a Deaconess is a woman who has been called to lay ministry in the Church. She has been educated and trained to fulfill the duties of her vocation. She has dedicated herself to lifelong service in the Church and has been Set Apart to the Office of Deaconess by the solemn laying-on of hands by the Bishop. She has, in faith, vowed to prayerfully execute the duties of her office in obedience to her Bishop and “those over her in the Lord.” (Read more about the history of Deaconesses.)

Traditional Duties

To assist in the work of the Parish, Mission, or institution to which she may be appointed, under the direction of the Rector or Priest-in-charge; or, if there be none such, to perform such functions as may be directly entrusted to her by the Bishop.


  • To care for the sick, the afflicted, and the poor.
  • To give instruction in the Christian Faith.
  • Under the Rector or the Minister in charge, to prepare candidates for Baptism and for Confirmation.
  • To assist at the administration of Holy Baptism; and, in the absence of the Priest or Deacon, to baptize infants.
  • Under the Rector or Minister in charge to organize, superintend, and carry out the Church’s work among women and children.
  • With the approval of the Bishop and the incumbent, to read Morning and Evening Prayer (except such portions as are reserved for the Priest) and the Litany in Church or Chapel in the absence of the Minister; and when licensed by the Bishop to give instruction or deliver addresses at such services.
  • To organize and carry on social work; and in colleges and schools to have a responsible part in the education of women and children, and to promote the welfare of women students.