Serafim added that “one of the most important fields of work of the deaconess was the exercise of the works of love. They were the angels of mercy and the visiting sisters of the sick, the ‘grieving’ and poor women, imparting to them the gifts of Christian love.”

One of the important functions of deaconesses will be to distribute the Eucharist, even while their role will not be identical to the work of their counterparts of more than 1,000 years ago. However, he noted that “we must admit that women can offer the Orthodox Church a great missionary work,” as well as evangelism and teaching, and highlighted their missionary, catechetical, and teaching work. After her ordination, Molen distributed the holy Eucharist, which in the Byzantine rite is given via spoon and includes the body and the blood.

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa has been on the way to diaconal ordination of women for several years. At a 2016 synod in Alexandria, Egypt, the Patriarchate voted to reinstate the female diaconate. In 2017, the Patriarchate ordained six sub-deaconesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Among the functions of deaconesses may be baptism, which in Orthodox churches is conducted by full immersion. In the early Church, full immersion for adults was followed by anointing of the whole body, which required the assistance of deaconesses for the sake of propriety.

According to the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, the only mention of a deaconess in the Bible is in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (16:1), which refers to Phoebe as diakonos or “servant,” even while no official status was implied. However, citing testimony by Roman author Pliny, the encyclopedia says “there can be no question that before the middle of the fourth century women were permitted to exercise certain definite functions in the Church and were known by the special name of diakonoi or diakonissai.” The fourth-century apostolic constitutions include instructions for the ordination to the female diaconate.