Valley Priest Making History

June 26, 2009 11:24:35 PM PDT
The very public and ultimately final split in the Valley's Episcopal Church has led to four women serving as priests in their congregations.Rev. Suzy Ward said, "My hope is that I can be part of the healing and restoration that this diocese is undergoing right now."

On Saturday Reverend Suzy Ward officially becomes an Episcopal priest of the San Joaquin Diocese. She is the 5th woman to do so. But she is the only one to be ordained here in this diocese.

Four others were ordained in other dioceses that accepted women in the ministry during the time the former leadership in the San Joaquin Valley refused to do so. Michelle Racusin was ordained in San Francisco.

Rev. Michelle Racusin said, "That moment of ordination is not something you can put into words."

She now serves in Fresno's Holy Family Episcopal Church. It has been more than a year since the split of the Valley's Episcopal Church ... Racusin believes the church has re-emerged stronger and more diverse.

"So now we have both men and women serving God in this common ministry. And I think that just with the full inclusion we're able to experience the gifts of all people," said Rev. Racusin.

June 27th will mark the beginning of Reverend Suzy Ward's ministry as an ordained, Episcopalian priest.

"I don't think it's something was chosen I think it was something I was called to," said Rev. Ward.

She also reflects the beliefs of today's Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

"For all these people in the Valley who believe in the full ministry of all individuals that's why this is such a great celebration because they see the realization of that," said Rev. Ward.

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