by Lionel E. Deimel
A priesting in our diocese
Is now a time of joy
Devoid of worries for those things
A bishop would destroy.
Each priest can now be healer,
Evangelist and friend,
A comforter and confidant
On whom one can depend.
The troubles of a broken world
That lately filled the news
We’ll contemplate another day
And file into our pews,
For Gwen today becomes a priest
Who’ll help mend what’s been rent,
She’ll do her work with grace and love,
Enlarging God’s big tent.
New priests with
bishop: (L to R) the Rev. Charles Brent Wagner Hamill,
the Rev. Gwen Gettemy Santiago, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey W.M.
the Rev. Terence Lee Johnston, the Rev. Todd Thomas Schmidtetter,
and the Rev. John Robert Schaeffer
(Photo courtesy Andy Muhl)
My friend Gwen Santiago was ordained to
the priesthood December 15, 2012, at Pittsburgh’s Trinity Cathedral.
Charles Hamill, Terence Johnston, John Schaeffer, and Todd Schmidtetter
were ordained at the same service, the first ordination presided over by
our new bishop, Dorsey McConnell. For the occasion, as I have done for
the ordinations of other friends, I wrote a poem for Gwen, which I
completed the day before the ordination. (Other poems for ordinands can
be read here, here,
here, and here.)
The first and last stanzas, of course, allude
to the schism in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh engineered by
deposed bishop Bob Duncan. The penultimate stanza was inspired by the
shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that occurred the day I
wrote the poem. Had it not been for the shooting in Newtown,
Connecticut, Gwen’s poem would have come out differently. She had been
dealing with some serious health problems, and my initial plan was to
highlight her courage and determination in her pursuit of the
priesthood. The whole nation seemed in a blue funk over yet another
school massacre, though, and, at the last minute, I chose to contrast
the joy of an ordination with the gloom produced by the shootings.
Update, 9/15/2015. The Rev. Gwen
Marie Gettemy Santiago died of cancer on 9/9/2016. She was buried today
from the church in which she grew up. She will be greatly missed.