Mother, Father, Rector, Deacon
We have lots of interesting terminology in the church. As we begin to welcome our new Assistant Rector, Erin Rath, we will be challenged even a bit more.
In the monastic tradition, the abbot of the monastery was the one who went out into the town and celebrated Eucharist. He was Father abbot and the title has stuck for the anglo-catholic tradition ever since. Male priests in this diocese are referred to as “Father” when addressed in conversation or on a salutation in a letter. When we began ordaining women to the priesthood, we found ourselves in a bit of a dilemma. We would not call a woman “Father”, so what would the appropriate title be for a woman priest? Following the same anglo-catholic tradition, the best term is Mother, as in “Mother Superior”, the abbess of a monastery. Hence, in this diocese many churches use the term “Mother” for their female priests.
However, the church also requires that all priests serve a minimum of six months as a transitional deacon. Thus, Erin Rath will come to us as “Deacon Erin”. After her six months of service as deacon is completed and when our bishops can arrange a date for ordination, Erin will be ordained to the priesthood and become “Mother Erin”.
In all cases, all of us answer to the name given to us by our parents, so Mike, Erin, Fred and Susan are also quite acceptable.
We look forward to Erin’s ministry among us and learning together about the ministry of the transitional diaconate.