DiscoverBiographies & Memoirs

Lady Father



“Lady Father” is a narrative account of my journey through the ordination process in the Episcopal Church of the 1980’s and my subsequent ministries. As the first female admitted to the ordination process by the Rt. Rev. C. Charles Vaché, 7th Bishop of Southern Virginia, who was then a strong and vocal opponent of the ordination of women, I was a “reluctant pioneer.” Dubbed “the Lady Father,” I have served the church for 33 years and I am now offering my experiences and the insights to others who feel a similar call.

“Lady Father” is filled with anecdotes that will ring true with many clergy, bring hope to those aspiring to ordination, and shed light on the continuing debate over who should be ordained. My story is a unique blend of the obstacles, denials, and rejections I faced and overcame, along with the uplifting moments and spiritual growth that came out of the struggle. It is truthful and so, at times, it is painful; it is often light-hearted, even humorous; it is moving as it deals with real people, real events, and real emotions; and, most of all, it is mine – my story, my journey, my life.


It was as if someone had died. Neighbors and friends were answering the phone in hushed tones and calling my doctor while I wept uncontrollably in my bedroom. Other friends were bringing food and treats for my son as the word spread through the community. They had come when Scotty called for help after he heard my primal scream from the kitchen. I had dropped the phone and slid to the floor in a heap of despair and grief. He was only twelve years old but he knew something terrible had happened to his mother and he kept asking me, “Mom, what’s wrong?”

I couldn’t answer him; all I could do was cry. My world had crashed; my life was over; I was falling into a deep pit and could barely hear his panicky questions as I was screaming inside – I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING TO ME! The next thing I knew I was sitting on the edge of my bed and my neighbor was trying to calm me down enough to find out what had happened. Scotty could only tell him that I had gotten some phone call and was now hysterical.

I couldn’t speak; I just sobbed as my friend, Bob, held me and my son watched in horror from the hall. Finally, I began to hear Bob’s questions and somehow I managed to tell him what had happened. He was appalled at the news but he was all kindness and gentle support as he helped me get some control of myself. I realized that Scotty had come into the room and he asked me in a tremulous voice, “Mom, are you OK? Can I get you anything?” with a maturity way beyond his twelve years. I heard him but my heart hurt so badly I could not speak.

An excerpt from Lady Father by the Rev. Susan B. Bowman.

About the author

Susan Bowman, from Petersburg, Virginia, received a BA in Philosophy from the College of William Mary. Answering a call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, she earned a Masters of Divinity Degree in 1984.As a priest, Susan served in several ministries in VA and NY. She is now retired. view profile

Published on September 20, 2019

Published by Aberdeen Bay

100000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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