Isaiah 40: 3-11
Preface of Commemoration of the Dead
[Common of a Saint]
[For All Baptized Christians]
[For Social Service]
PRAYER (traditional language)
God of the holy innocents, we thank thee for the motherly witness of thy deaconess Emily Cooper, who, in naming and baptizing, did not forget the children: Draw our hearts and minds to the plight of little ones, remembering always the teaching of thy Son that, in receiving a little child in his name, we receive Christ himself, who liveth and reigneth as
one with thee and the Spirit, as one, caring for ever and ever. Amen.
PRAYER (contemporary language)
God of the holy innocents, we thank you for the motherly witness of your deaconess Emily Cooper, who, in naming and baptizing, did not forget the children: Draw our hearts and minds also to the plight of little ones, always remembering your Son's teaching that in receiving a little child in his name, we receive Christ himself, who lives and reigns as one with you and the Spirit, as one, caring forever and ever. Amen.
This commemoration appears in A Great Cloud of Witnesses.
Return to Lectionary
Last updated: 16 Feb. 2019
Deaconess, 16 April 1909
The Deaconess Movement of England in the late 17th Century provided two years training and
commissioning for service to others under the supervision of the Church. The movement spread
quickly to the U.S. Of the four women so commissioned at St. Mary's Church, Brooklyn on June
11, 1873, one, Sister Emily Cooper, was called by Bishop Benjamin Bosworth Smith to serve in
Louisville, Kentucky. There, in 1880, the Episcopal Diocese founded The Home of the Innocents
with Sister Emily as its first Director.
The purpose of the home was to save the small children who were suffering from neglect,
disease, abandonment, and some whose parents simply could not afford their upkeep. The home
provided the first kindergarten in Kentucky.
Sister Emily served until her health required retirement. She lived at the Orphanage of the Good
Shepherd until her death. During the
years in which Sister Emily was in charge, she assisted
Bishop Thomas Dudley and some priests in the baptism of 284 children and the burial of an even
larger number. In recent years it was discovered that over 220 children who died while in the
the Home of the Innocents were buried in unmarked graves in Louisville's Cave Hill
Cemetery; many surround the marked grave of Sister Emily.
Money was raised for statuary of Sister Emily bearing the names on bronze plaques of the
children buried there.
Many, otherwise nameless, had been given
Christian names by Sister
Emily when they were "marked as Christ's own forever.
- from a resolution presented to the Diocese of Kentucky Convention, 2011