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5 minutes with Angela ...

Tell us a little about you I am the 55 year old woman, mother of two beautiful adults (a son and daughter), who has wrestled with the call to priestly ministry for 40 years. At 51, after at least three previous promptings by the Spirit (including a time in my 30’s when I went to Theological School while I was caretaker at a Anglican Parish in Sydney, living in the rectory with my two children), I was on a silent retreat with the Third Order Franciscans (I am a tertiary of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis) and God spoke LOUDLY to me in the silence. I had a really good corporate career and I was worshiping in a beautiful church where I was very involved, I was involved in NFP’s (Not for Profits) and was surrounded by friends and family in the familiarity of my life in Sydney. But I knew at that moment that if I didn’t register to start a Theology Degree in the new year that time would pass and what I had felt called to do and suppressed, partly because when I was young, women were not able to be ordained and especially in Sydney, partly because I had made other choices along the way to marry and have children and forge a successful corporate career to support my family, that if I didn’t get on with some of the practicalities of seeking discernment for ordination, that I would not be being obedient to God’s call on me. So I registered, started studying, had a “chance” encounter with one of our Bishop’s in the Diocese of Newcastle, a discussion with my Priest and within 18 months of saying yes to God, I was on the journey ... It is ongoing and there is a long way to go but today as I write this, I am in the last year of my Theology Degree, I am in a full-time ministry placement, living on site at a beautiful church in East Maitland (Newcastle-Hunter Valley) and as an Ordinand in Intense Formation, I am participating in a variety of learning and spiritual growth and development programs to equip me for ministry into the future. What's your favourite bible passage & why? I can’t claim to have a favourite Bible passage because I seem to find different passages really speak to me at different times in my life. At this time in my life, two of my favourites are 1 John 3: 23-24 and Psalm 139: 1-5. The 1 John passage speaks to my calling to be a priest and the Psalm speaks to my journey over the past 55 years: And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. (1 John 3: 23-24) O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. (Psalm 139: 1-5) How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus? The inescapable challenge of being in and of this world, is for me, that every day, I begin again in my quest to to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Of course, it would be fair to assume that an Ordinand in Intense Formation and a full time ministry placement who lives on the church site would have no excuse for not being keeping her eyes fixed on Jesus! Even in the midst of one of the most spiritual places and at this most intense formation time in my life, I have realised that I can be so fixed on doing the things that need to be done - university assignments, preparation for mininstries and outreach, sermon preparation, attending conferences and courses, visiting people, preparation in the church, participating in a variety of worship and spirituality programs and balancing family commitments and making time to spend with friends, that sometimes Jesus gets submerged in the quagmire of things and busyness BUT thankfully, he keeps his eyes fixed on me and it is not long before I am again fixed on him. Every morning before I get going with the day ahead, I read the prayers, readings and reflections that I have set up to arrive in my inbox each morning and if time permits I often open one of my prayer or devotional apps. I attend Morning, Mid-day and Evening Prayer as often as possible BUT I have to be disciplined to stay fixed on what I or others are reading and praying and not letting my mind drift... which it does! And I try and fit into all of this some quiet time when I stop speaking and if possible, thinking, to allow the voice of God to break in. I listen to a Christian Radio station and that is usually one of the best ways to re-set my focus on Jesus when I am rushing here and there and I have some lovely iconography and other Christian pictures and symbols in my house which remind me of who I should be fixing my eyes on.

What would you like the next generation of Christian women to know? God calls all humans without preference or discrimination to be the realisation of his promises in what ever formation he has earmarked for you. So if you are a Christian woman, then be open to whatever God may have in store for you and pray earnestly that you have both heard and understood and that he will guide you and support you as you pursue his will for your life. Study the Scriptures as much as you can, read others interpretations on the Scriptures, explore the unity and diversity of the Christian faith across the many traditions that exist and know what you believe and why. Pray earnestly. Listen to God’s voice. Be open to the stirrings of the Spirit and trust in God’s graciousness even when life hurts and he seems to be far away. He is never far away and he loves you. God is depending on you to grow his kingdom and be a witness of his grace and love. And pray earnestly! What's one thing that you love about your church? The people! I am in a place presently that has a wonderful mix of ages from toddlers to people in their 90’s. Each and everyone of these people whether they have attended this church or other churches for a couple of months or 65 years (and we do have a couple who have been here for 65 years!) brings their story, their expression of the love of Jesus, their pain and their prayers to the family of God in this place. We are a community of all sorts but there is something very obvious that unites us in our diversity. What really excites me is these peoples’ passion for community outreach and service. What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard? God is in control not matter what I might think I need to do to take control in traumatic and challenging circumstances. Of course, I need to always put the armour of Christ on to face into the adversity I am facing or to walk alongside another in the face of their adversity and deep need, but there is only one in control. So prayer, trust and acceptance of God’s will is what grounds me and centres me to be there for others. What are you passionate about? Jesus! Growing the Kingdom! Witnessing the love of God in everything that I do. Being an authentic and hospitable servant of Christ through community service, relationships and prayer. I am passionate about my vocation as a mother and miss my kids terribly since moving away from Sydney and I am also passionate about being a daughter of elderly parents, whom I seek to dignify through supporting them at this time of life. I am passionate about my friendships new and enduring over many years. I am passionate about my dogs (one in East Maitland and one in Sydney with my daughter). (Passionate is a great word!) What do you enjoy doing when you rest? I love the beach; I love the sun and the sea and beachside towns (anywhere in the world) and I like to rest in the warm climates where I can sit and read, explore my surroundings, eat good food, walk my dog and just breathe in life. I love sharing a meal with friends and family; the company, the conversations, the food and the wine, the laughter and the sharing.

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