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Road to Episcopal priesthood culminates in ceremony tonight

By Staff
BECOMING A PRIEST The Rev. Ann Whitaker will be ordained as a priest tonight during services at the Episcopal Church of the Mediator. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Jan. 16, 2002
For about three years, Ann Whitaker and Edward O'Connor sat in the same classrooms together as seminarians.
Last year, they were ordained as deacons in the Episcopal Church and assigned to parishes in Meridian O'Connor serving as curate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Whitaker as curate at the Episcopal Church of the Mediator.
Tonight, Whitaker and O'Connor will become ordained Episcopal priests during a service scheduled at the Mediator.
The Rt. Rev. A.C. "Chip" Marble, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and himself a former rector at the Mediator, will perform the ordination. The 6 p.m. service is open to the public.
Whitaker's and O'Connor's ordinations mark a major milestone in their careers.
Episcopalians, he said, "are a Eucharistic people and we're strengthened and fed at the altar and sent out. To be a part of that in a new way is exciting and meaningful to me."
Whitaker's calling goes back to childhood.
About 1,000 Episcopalians attend church in the two parishes of Meridian and Lauderdale County St. Paul's and the Mediator.
Statewide, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi includes 82 parishes and missions with about 20,000 members. The diocese offices are in Jackson.
Kathryn Weathersby, the diocese's director for administration and finance, said the number of ordinations varies. But she said the diocese has about three to five a year three for priests and five for deacons.
In the Episcopal Church, deacons are members of the clergy, have pastoral responsibilities and can give sermons. However, they cannot preside over church services also known as celebrating the Eucharist.
O'Connor and Whitaker will continue most of their current responsibilities as well as assuming the additional tasks associated with being a priest.
For both, becoming priests will be a continuation of their current ministries in working with the youth in their parishes.

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