Catherine’s ordination story: “God literally planted my feet at the altar.”

Published: Monday June 12, 2023

Catherine MilsomWe are catching up with some of the men and women preparing to be ordained as deacon on 25 June at Gloucester Cathedral. Catherine Milsom, from Brockworth, shares her story.

Catherine, 35, lives with her husband, Stephen, and their son, George. Having been raised in a Christian family, Catherine was used to attending her local church but never felt that ordination was ever something she would choose, or be able, to do.

Where did your journey to ordination begin?

“I always had a desire to help people and after studying at university I became an optician. However, over the years the parts of the job I loved the most – the getting to know people and building relationship – were being pushed out in favour of sales and the more commercial side to the business. In 2019, the priest at my family church was leaving and it opened up an opportunity to get more involved – and ultimately led to me considering ordination for the very first time.”

When did you feel called to become ordained?

“Although my church had resolutions in place against the ordination of women, I found myself increasingly drawn to leadership. The only times I had been at the front at church was when I gave the reading, but this was always at the lectern at the side of the altar. One day, when I was running a pre-school event, I found myself at the front of church. I felt this distinctive sensation that my feet wouldn’t move from the altar area, they were firmly planted, and I wondered what that was about. At the end, one of the pre-school leaders came up to me and asked, ‘So are you the next priest?’ and, to my shame, I laughed in response. I’d not even considered that I would do something like that. But it started me thinking. Over quite a short period, I experienced several similar instances and kept feeling this strong nudge to lead at church.

“I was surrounded by so many people who saw my gift for loving and serving others and they encouraged me to pursue it. I was able to see beyond the barriers against the ordination of women, and soon found my church home within the Greenway Benefice where my call was nurtured and I was supported through the Bishops’ Advisory Panel process.”

What were the highlights of your training?

“I chose to study for ordination as a Dispersed Learner (learning remotely) at Trinity College Bristol, to allow me to witness and be part of a completely different style of worship and tradition from my Anglo-Catholic roots. It felt important to experience something completely different to what I was used to. I found the evangelical style challenging at first but I think only because it was so new to me. It’s been really refreshing and I feel more confident having a broad experience of worshipping styles.

“Meeting Ann [Sargent] was a turning point for me. Her guidance through the discernment process was brilliant. She always said to me, ‘Just be completely who you are’ and that really helped me. She was only the second woman priest I’d ever met and I was so encouraged by her. She looked like me. She sounded like me. I was blown away; she really helped me to see that this could be me.”

Where will you serve once you are ordained?

“I have been worshipping and training in the Greenway Benefice under the Revd Susan Cooke, and have really loved my time there, but I am very excited to be joining St Barnabas, Gloucester for my curacy with the Revd Sarah Todd guiding me.”

Catherine will be ordained deacon on Sunday 25 June at 10.15 am in Gloucester Cathedral.


3 thoughts on “Catherine’s ordination story: “God literally planted my feet at the altar.”

  1. It is such a privilege to read stories such as Catherine’s. Each person’s route to ordination is unique. May you feel fulfilled in your ministry, Catherine.

    I shall be at the Cathedral tomorrow (14th) to pray for and rejoice with ordinands.

  2. Catherine, what a joy it is for myself and Keith pursue your vocation.
    You will always have our love, support and prayers.
    You have so much to offer.

  3. We have the good fortune to have Ann Sargent within our Benefice family – avibrant, Spirit-filled, brimming with hopefulness and joy in the Lord; May you follow in her footsteps, speaking out for God unashamedly and Bible-based Truth, with Spirit-filled passion for what you believe and have been given to convey. May God bless your ministry, wherever it takes you.
    St. Barnabus are blessed to have a young family joining them, we will be remembering your husband and George especially.
    Gilly Traverse is being ordained with you – she is our Pioneer Mnister.
    Psalm 18 vv28,29

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