Thursday, December 18, 2008

A year as a priest

A year ago, I was ordained a priest in Christ's One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, here in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia at St. James Church (Richmond) by Bishop Peter James Lee and a whole host of other priests. After several years of the "discernment process" and three years of seminary and six months as a "transitional" deacon, this was a joyous day and a wonderful occasion. Though it is the general practice in the Episcopal Church to not have people take pictures during liturgies, there were a few wonderful pictures taken, the following two were taken by the local paper here in Richmond.

That's my head under Bishop Lee's hands...(I wonder how many priests he has ordained!)

And then this one taken by a family member...

It has been a wonderful, rich, and challenging first year as an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church for me, and one of the most important gifts is that I get to learn from students, teachers, and staff as I function as a priest within a wonderful Episcopal School, St. Catherine's School, here in Richmond. I preach weekly to the youngest of our students, and work with a wonderful colleague who is our lower school chapel coordinator - she and our music teacher do the bulk of the planning of these lower school chapels, and I have learned so much from them. Twice weekly, I assist our wise and compassionate middle school chaplain who is a gifted preacher and pastor. Every once in a while I have the privilege of preaching to the middle school, but mostly I get to experience the awesome energy and gifts that are the students and faculty of our middle school. I am the coordinator of our upper school chapels, along with our amazing music director, who is an incredible teacher of singing who brings out the best in his music groups. The aspect of our upper school chapel that I am most proud of is that we have had several upper school students preach reflective and insightful homilies during our services. I am so proud of these girls, and hope that more girls are willing to share a story, a reflection, or a bit about their sense of God in their lives.

On top of this "chapel" work, I am extremely thankful for my colleagues - the teachers, staff, and administration, as well as our excellent support staff who are giving, hard-working, wise, and collaborative. If part of a priest's job is to help to "empower the saints" to do ministry, I am blessed with an amazing group of "saints" who already do amazing ministry with our students and with one another. I have been blessed to be serving in such a place, and I thank them heartily. May the Christmas Spirit abide with them in this season and throughout the year!

As we head off to some time off, Merry Christmas!!

(oh, we still have two services tomorrow, of course, and a couple classes to teach...and miles to go before I sleep...)

~ The Rev. Peter M. Carey, Chaplain, St. Catherine's School, Richmond

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