On June 18th, I was ordained as a deacon at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas along with 10 other marvelous people. I don’t know if words can describe how I felt or what it was like. In some ways, it was like a wedding with 10 other people getting married that I didn’t have to plan. There were two bishops, a brass band, choir, and all of the pomp and circumstance that such an event demands. The cathedral was mostly full, and, save for my wedding day, I have never felt so surrounded by people who love me and support me and have prayed for me throughout this five year journey.
It was a hot and humid June day in Houston (surprise, surprise), and nerves combined with multiple layers of vestments did not help. First, we processed in, were individually presented by our groups of clergy and lay presenters, and then signed the Order of Conformity, that we agreed to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.
From there on, it was like a normal Eucharistic service – readings and a marvelous sermon by the Bishop of Northwest Texas. Then it was time for our ordination. We took our hassocks (fancy word for kneeler-thingies) and kneeled in front of the bishop while he pressed his hands on our heads and asked for the Holy Spirit to come into us. My friends who were ordained last year warned us that he was a bit heavy-handed and to brace ourselves so we didn’t fall over.
Then we were vested with our stoles. Joe approached with the stole that my parents had given me and put it over my left shoulder, which is how deacons wear their stoles. The bishop introduced us to the congregation, gave us our Bibles, and we shared the peace. That is when my eyes begin to water a little bit. I had kept it together through the rest of the service, but I could hardly believe that this was really happening. I honestly thought it might not ever happen. Even walking to the church, I kept thinking something would prevent me from actually getting ordained.
My role during the Eucharist was to serve as an oblationer and hold the flagon of wine, which went very smoothly. Although I was in the back, I still got to see several people who showed up to support me. The service took about two hours, but it seemed like time had stopped and everything in the world was centered on that moment in time. I imagined my great-aunt and great-uncle, an Episcopal priest, watching from heaven with glee and felt surrounded by the prayers of everyone who couldn’t be there. I remembered when I first told Joe that I felt called to the ordained ministry when we first started dating and now he was vesting me.
Afterwards, we took a quick group picture (Yes, I was the youngest person ordained that day.) and headed inside for air conditioning and the presentation of our ordination certificates. The certificates are intense and include a wax seal with the imprint of the bishop’s ring.
And now you know my last name and can stalk me (though it wouldn’t have been that hard to figure out or find before).
Joe, the parentals, and me.
The bishop and me without all of our vestments on.
And the whole family, including my niece Anna, at our post-celebration lunch at Hugo’s.
Thank you all for all of your thoughts and prayers during this time!