HISTORY OF THE CROSS
MY JOURNEY AS A PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA
Where does one begin when telling about my journey to the priesthood.
I was baptised and confirmed into ‘THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’ in England, later to become commonly known as ‘Anglican’ because of its worldwide expansion.
I was around 16 when I first felt that God was calling me to something. At that stage and for many years after women were disenfranchised in virtually all churches. We could arrange the flowers, clean the church, wash up, all manner of things, but to serve God as a priest was unheard of. Things change, and when God wants something it happens. Canberra Goulburn diocese in the ’90s things were becoming very unsettled, women were beginning to be noticed which didn’t sit well with most male clergy. The Bishop at that time was being moved by the Holy Spirit to ordain women as clergy. I myself was in Theological College doing a degree in ‘Bachelor of Theology’ also at the same time as doing Clinical Pastoral Education at Canberra hospital as part of my degree. Things came to a head when the Bishop made it known that he was intent on ordaining women. The whole issue went as far as the high court in Australia only to be thrown out by the judge, who said it was God’s business not his; so the first of a number of women were ordained. I myself was ordained in the year of the millennium 2000 after much trial and tribulation. The words ‘FEED MY SHEEP’ became very significant in my calling. To cut a long story short and with many wonderful clergy, both male, and female supporting me, along with many lay people I was made a priest in the church of God. It has been a wonderful journey and a wonderful ministry and I can’t thank God enough.
The cross was made by a carpenter when I was at Queanbeyan. It was made to go on the front of an altar when we were setting up a chapel within the local care home. He made two, the first one was considered too small so I put it on the rectory office wall, and it has moved around with me ever since. It has been used in talks for baptisms, confirmations, and in various ways to get the message of the Kingdom of God across to young and older people alike. I shall miss it in my office, but I know it will continue to convey that message into the future in the little chapel where it is going to be. God only knows how it will speak or become a comfort to others in the silence of the chapel.
Reverend Mary Clarke