Serve people in need through congregations, agencies, institutions or missionary work.

Since CUC's Deaconess Program was founded in 1980, graduates have been filling mercy roles in churches, hospitals, nursing homes, other institutions and on the mission field. These deaconesses are blessings from God. They represent an important part of the past, present and future of God’s Church on earth.

Study Options

There are three distinct study paths for those wishing to serve as a Deaconess:

Deaconess Studies (BA)

Deaconess Certification

Program Overview

Deaconess ministry has its roots in the priesthood of all believers. A deaconess’ tasks do not differ from that which other lay people are able to do. However, a deaconess’ service in the church is her vocation.

Although deaconesses serve in many settings outside parishes, in the congregation, the deaconess serves the people and the pastor in a relationship of support and encouragement.

The primary area of study is theology, including courses designed exclusively for deaconesses. Courses in grieving, counseling and education are required. Complementary areas of study include psychology; sociology; social work; education; church music; Biblical languages; Spanish; and multi-cultural, youth and family ministries. Classroom theory is translated into meaningful service through fieldwork and a one-year paid internship.

CUC’s location provides easy access to the cultural, learning and servant opportunities of Chicago. A rich variety of Lutheran congregations and service organizations exist within an easy distance to campus. Our library is one of the oldest and most complete theological libraries in the Synod, with access to the resources of other major Chicago schools.

This completion of this training and approval of the Synodical Placement Approval Committee allows the student to be certified as a deaconess in the LCMS and to receive Calls to LCMS parishes, agencies and missions as a “minister of religion, commissioned.”

View Frequently Asked Questions

Calling a Deaconess

Consider calling a full-time deaconess as staff for your church or agency.

The Deaconess Program has theologically trained, capable enthusiastic women available to serve in your congregation or agency. If you would like to find out more about how to request an intern for your organization, please email Deaconess Kristin Wassilak.

Support the Deaconess Program

There are many opportunities for individuals and organizations to support God's work through the Deaconess program.

Encourage Women Who Have a Heart for Service

Young women who are actively involved in the Church and serving others, as well as women who are considering a career change, may not be aware of the deaconess vocation. Inform them about the opportunity to become a deaconess, encourage them to consider the program and contact the Deaconess Program office.

Pray for Students and Faculty

As individuals, include the deaconess students and professors in your daily prayers. As a congregation, include them in your Sunday service prayers.

"Adopt" a Deaconess Student

Individuals, Sunday schools, youth groups, ladies' groups or congregations can "adopt" a deaconess student by praying for her, sending cards of encouragement throughout the year as well as special occasions such as her birthday and holidays, sending care packages (especially welcome during semester exam time), and considering financial donations toward the cost of her tuition. To request a student, email Deaconess Kristin Wassilak.

Request a Deaconess or Intern

Consider supporting and sustaining the service of a deaconess or deaconess intern. Your congregation, institution or agency can help train a woman whose vocation is to serve. For more information, email Deaconess Kristin Wassilak.

Provide Financial Support

  • Deaconess Chair Endowment Fund

    An endowment has been established to permanently fund the position, Director of Deaconess Ministry.
  • Deaconess Clara Strehlow Endowment Fund

    This fund provides tuition assistance to deaconess students at Concordia University Chicago.
  • Sponsor a Diakonia Days Summer Camper

    Diakonia Days is a summer camp at Concordia University Chicago designed for current high school girls to explore what the deaconess ministry is all about and also see what life on campus as a deaconess student is like. Camp tuition is $350 for a week.