Sister Diana Ordained to the Priesthood

Sister Diana Ordained to the Priesthood

by The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

The Rev. Sr. Diana Doncaster was ordained to the Sacred Order of Priests on May 7, 2015 at the Chapel of the Transfiguration in Cincinnati, OH. Bishop Barry L. Beisner, members of The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California and many others traveled to be with Sr. Diana+ for this very special occasion. “I am deeply grateful and awed that this privilege and responsibility has been entrusted to me,” says Sr. Diana+. “I am amazed and moved by the trust my sisters are placing in me, and the loving support even those who cannot accept priestly ministry from a woman are giving me with great generosity.” Sr. Diana is pictured here (from left to right) with Bishop Barry Beisner, the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, assisting Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and the Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

The ordination of a Sister to the priesthood is an exceptional and rare circumstance. “It’s still a relatively new thing in The Episcopal Church,” shares Sr. Diana+, “and we have a lot to work out.” Sr. Diana+ is also the first Sister in the Community of the Transfiguration to be ordained to the priesthood. “I’d frankly rather be the second or third or fourth sister-priest in this community, but that’s not how it happened,” says Sr. Diana+. “The moments of fear and doubt are becoming fewer and less powerful with the growing awareness of God’s active grace present with me, and as that extraordinary peace that really does surpass all human understanding enfolds me.” The Community of the Transfiguration is a Religious Order for women in The Episcopal Church and part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Though she is the first sister-priest in her Religious Order, this is not a path that Sr. Diana+ has traveled alone. “I know of six others, in traditional Episcopal religious communities, who have preceded me and are praying me on, as well as several in English communities and a couple in the newer Christian communities which are emerging. There are likely to be more whom I have not yet come to know.” When asked if she thinks a special ordination such as this will have far reaching effects on other sisters who are considering the priesthood she says,” I do not know. God knows and is not telling me.” Pictured at left are members of The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, who joined Sr. Diana+ for this special occasion, including Bishop Beisner.

Sr. Diana’s+ path to the priesthood came as part of her larger discernment process. “By the time I made my Life Vows in 2003, I knew I was in the right place, and assumed that the sense of call had been to the religious life all along. However, the sense of the altar “calling me” did not fade. In addition, a couple of people who knew me well and knew the Community well, talked to me about priesthood. One challenge was that not all of the Sisters were able to accept a woman as a priest, and there were concerns that a sister-priest would either go 'power-happy' or get frustrated and leave. We went through several years of fits and starts before it was possible for the Community to engage in a real discernment process. By that time, I had moved to California to serve in our small branch house in Eureka with Sister Alice. With the guidance of Bishop Nedi Rivera, we explored both questions: Is this Community ready to have a sister as a priest? And do we believe Sister Diana is called to the priesthood within this Community? In due course, both questions were answered affirmatively, so I started the process in The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.”

When asked if there is advice she would share with other potential ordinands, Sr. Diana+ said, “I’ll pass on the advice I was given by that wise priest, Anne Baker+, when she and I spoke of ordination many years ago: ‘Don’t do it unless you can’t not do it.' If you can’t not do it, take the next step and see what happens. Whatever happens, God is good and God is with you.”

 

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Tina Ferriot wrote:
O how wonderful our God is in giving us our hearts desire and affirming our prayers. discernment can be long and difficult at times but our Lord and God and the work of the Holy Spirit comfort and guide us for their sake. Congratulations Sister Diana. I hope to have a deep conversation with you soon about our building up the Kingdom of God. God's Peace and Joy! Tina Ferriot, TSSF

Thu, May 28, 2015 @ 8:14 PM

2. Helen Rogers wrote:
I am so happy and proud of you. May God's Blessings be with you.

Mon, June 1, 2015 @ 9:14 PM

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