During my time in catechumenate at Grace Church many years ago with Mother Michele, my classmate and I would often say to her, “Now here’s a stupid church question for you…” Mother Michele would always do her best to assure us that there were no stupid questions and then answer our query. Part of my writing this column each month has been to share some of the seminary process with all of you and to answer questions you may have along the way. Recently, some questions have been asked of me regarding my ordination that I thought I’d share here, in case others wonder similar things.
“Who is Roberta Ann?” “Are you related?”: Yes. Bobbi and Roberta are one and the same. “Bobbi” is my nickname. For ordination, our baptismal names are used.
“Deacon? I thought you were going to be a priest.”: Yes. All clergy in The Episcopal Church, including bishops, start as deacons. It is the first time we make our formal clerical vows to serve God. (Though our first vows were at our baptism.) Some people are called to the vocational or permanent Diaconate (of which Paul is one) and remain deacons throughout their ministry. Some are transitional deacons, these deacons (of which I will be one) are ordained priest after the prescribed time.
When will you become a priest?”: I will serve as a deacon for at least six months before becoming a priest. In The Episcopal Church, an ordinand (a fancy name for a candidate for ordination) to the priesthood must serve for at least six months AND have been called to ministry (aka have a job placement) before being ordained to the priesthood. (There’s also a lot of paperwork to fill out and medical and psychological exams to go through.)
“What if you don’t have a job?”: If I don’t have a job placement by June (when I must move out of my VTS apartment to make room for the incoming students), I may take it as a sign that God is calling me back to the mission field (and my team from this past summer in Iraq is already praying that this may be God’s will for me…though it would not make my Mom happy.)
“What are the chances of coming back to WI?”: At present, there are no positions available to me. Additionally, it currently feels as if God is calling me to campus ministry or to a parish near a college campus. My pull to the mission field also may find me called to a new missional ministry. Stay tuned. The next six to nine months are going to be interesting as I listen to God’s instructions for my life.
In the meantime, I think I may need to rename “The Postulant’s Path” since I am no longer a postulant.
“How can we help?”: Please join Paul, Isaiah, and me on Dec. 16th for our ordination service (God willing and the people consenting). Don’t forget to join us afterwards for cake and coffee/tea at the reception. Most importantly, keep praying.
I hope this has been helpful. I hope to see you all in December. I hope there’s no blizzard on December 16th. I give thanks to God for your love & support but most of all for His incarnation. Have a blessed Advent! By His Love, Bobbi
(*”What Direction Next?” originally appeared in “Postulant’s Path” article for Grace Sheboygan’s December Angelus newsletter).