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For Gwen

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.



Bishop and ordinands

New priests with bishop: (L to R) the Rev. Charles Brent Wagner Hamill,
the Rev. Gwen Gettemy Santiago, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey W.M. McConnell,
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.

— LED, 2/1/2013

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.

Gwen Santiago

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