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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

Those who pass on to the deaconess house


* "Deaconess Work in England," _The Churchman_, May 12, 1888.

The second question is more easy of response. There is a probation house, where ladies that present themselves as candidates are received for a month, and are given work in teaching orphan children, or go out to the city missions and the night-schools under the care of a deaconess. If the probation has proved satisfactory the candidate enters the training-school called "the Willows," a mile or two from the Central House, a pleasant home which about three years ago came into the possession of the institution and the inmates of the school, formerly accommodated in five small houses, are now gathered, at slightly greater expense, under one roof in the larger, pleasanter home. The following extracts, taken from a little circular called "A Missionary Training-school," will give us a good idea of the life of the embryo deaconesses, and the instruction, practical and theoretical, that they receive. "The house, which lies a little back from the road, is entered through a conservatory passage, and on the other side of the spacious hall, with its illuminated motto, 'Peace be to this house,' above the fireplace, are the lady superintendent's sitting-room and the large dining-room, where, on the day when I visited 'the Willows,' about thirty of us sat down to dinner. Several others were absent in connection with their medical studies. Both these rooms open on a terrace, and beyond stretches

a garden which, even in lifeless winter-time, looked inviting, and, in its spring beauty and summer loveliness, must be in itself a training for the young natures which are learning in the slums of Bethnal Green and Hoxton their hard acquaintance with sin and sorrow. Perhaps in these days of strain and toil too little has been thought of the need of young hearts for some gentle relief from the first shock of meeting with the evil with which older workers have a mournful familiarity."

The inmates of the Training-school are not deaconesses alone. The school was started to prepare workers for the foreign field, but the crying need of the vast metropolis turned attention to the home field. The Church of England Zenana Society sends its candidates to Mrs. Pennefather for training, and she is glad to accept them, believing that a variety of companionship is needed by those who, in zeal for their personal work, might lose the broad sympathy for all kinds of Christian labor, which is an invaluable cultivation for wise and useful laborers.

The several classes who pass through the course of training may be designated as follows:

a.) Those who pass on to the deaconess house.

b.) Candidates for (1) the Church of England Zenana Society; (2) the Church Missionary Society.

c.) Those who receive medical training for working among the women and children of India.

d.) Those who are as yet unconnected with any society.

e.) When vacancies occur some few are received who merely return to home or parish work, but who are greatly benefitted by training and experience.

"The general routine of life seems to be as follows: Prayers at eight o'clock, then breakfast, followed by a certain amount of domestic duty which falls to the lot of each. For it is not forgotten that these years of training are not for the sake of home life, but as preparation for the self-denials of missionary life. Speaking broadly, the mornings seem to be chiefly devoted to classes; afternoons to out of door and district work; and thus theory and practice pleasantly relieve and support each other."


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