Vincentian woman to be ordained priest in Anglican Church next week
For the FIRST time ever, a Vincentian woman will be ordained priest in the Anglican Church in the Diocese of the Windward Islands.
Alison Samuel will also be the first female to be ordained priest by the Anglican Church here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, at a ceremony which takes place on August 28 at the Church of the Ascension at Sion Hill.
“My spiritual journey began since a child. I remember my mom taking me to Sunday School the first time and I was so fascinated by the story I heard about Jesus and as time went by, she made sure we went to Sunday School and church every Sunday,” she told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview on Tuesday.
The Paul’s Avenue resident said it was during those early days that she developed a love for the Bible. She went on to join the adult choir at the St George’s Cathedral at age 11 and later served as a Sunday school teacher and then the superintendent of the Sunday School.
For Samuel, her love for the Church has always been a constant factor in her life and she committed to serving the Church in any way she could.
A retired public servant, Samuel worked for many years at the Registry and at one point, considered studying Law.
“…so I found myself trying to balance which is the better thing for me. That was my perspective, not knowing then that God…has a plan for each and everyone of us….”
As fate would have it, the 62-year-old challenged herself to read the Bible, cover to cover, and she told SEARCHLIGHT that this experience helped her to become stronger spiritually and strengthen her relationship with God.
Although she admits to doing things that may not have been pleasing to God throughout her life, she stressed that it was important to go back to Him and make amends.
“I decided this is it. Right in my bedroom, I knelt down, prayed to God about everything that was happening around me and I must confess that was a life changing event in my life and as I continued reading the good book, many things it says to us that we should do, I tried my best to live by the word,” Samuel said. “It has paid off for me. Having read the Bible, having been consistent in my church, that God has brought me …he has opened up many doors for me. Many times in my life when I thought that this was it, again God had a plan.”
In 2013, Samuel became a Deacon in the Anglican Church. Before then, she served in several capacities including a lay minister, Eucharistic minister and chalice bearer.
During this time, she completed a Diploma in Theology online through the Codrington College. And this narrowed down her formation programme to become a priest to one year of study.
“I spoke with my Bishop about how I felt and he was quite happy and pleased because apparently, he was expecting it a long time because we all grew up in Sunday school together,” she said.
For ages, many traditional churches have held the view that only men should be ordained as priests. But Samuel said that the Anglican Church has since opened up to allow women to become priests.
In fact, she told SEARCHLIGHT that not only are there female priests in the Anglican Church of the Diocese of the Windward Islands, but there are a number of married couples who both serve as priests.
“Don’t look at your gender. Listen to God’s call and answer. They say the women dominate everything, every area, so why should we be afraid to answer God’s call? When He calls, answer. You must meet opposition but that’s life and you have to go to that same God and ask him to overcome it. It won’t be smooth sailing everyday but you can make it.”
Samuel said she is satisfied and comfortable with the reception she has received from the Anglican community.
Once she is a priest, Samuel hopes to join with her congregation to meaningfully engage youth to come back to church and participate.
“The youths seem to have no interest in the Church because from my experience, going to — not even Cathedral — but when I go out to other churches, the congregation is more adult and some rather older ones too,” she said. “We need a stronger community spirit and people need to know that the church is not boring. There is something there for you, something good in the church of Jesus Christ. So trying to encourage persons to come back and those who are there, encourage them to bring a friend or persons who used to come…try and get them back. We are all one.”
Samuel’s ordination will take place at 5 pm at the Anglican Church of the Ascension at Sion Hill and she is looking forward to the next chapter of her life serving in the priesthood.