Rev. Bowman’s Memoir featured in The Episcopal New Yorker Magazine

Rev. Bowman’s Memoir “Lady Father” featured in “Per Ardua” (With Difficulty) Winter Women’s Issue 2019 Episcopal New Yorker

Glenmont, New York – December 30, 2019 – Rev. Bowman’s compelling memoir has been showcased in the Women’s Issue of the Episcopal New Yorker, the quarterly magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Entitled “Per Ardua” (translated “With Difficulty”) it is printed in English but the title of the article certainly captures the essence of her tumultuous journey into the ordination process of the Episcopal Church newly opened to women in the 1980’s. With a Bishop (the Rt. Rev. C. Claude Vache’) who refused to ordain women and a process still holding fast to the traditional all-male priesthood, Rev. Bowman was subjected to discriminatory practices and was not recommended for ordination until a year after her graduation from seminary. “Per Ardua” is written with the same honesty and gentle courage as her book which is set in the Dioceses of Southern Virginia and Albany. Her journey took her through various ministries during which she encountered everything from outright hostility and lost members to respect and devotion for her loving care of all those God put in her path, regardless of their stance on the issue. The events are reported honestly and without rancor, hostility, or excuses.

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.” – Susan B. Bowman

“Per Ardua” begins with a brief description of the author’s upbringing in the Episcopal Church and her early years of ministry with youth groups in Southern Virginia where she soon felt called to go to seminary. Her approach to the Bishop was shocking as this strong opponent to the ordination of women allowed her – as the first Southern Virginia woman ever – to enroll in seminary at The University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee. Three short months later, he made further history by enrolling her in the ordination process, again the first woman ever. The subsequent story of her 4 and ½-year stint as a Postulant/Candidate for Holy Orders is breathtakingly painful and outrageous – regardless of what side of the issue one was on – and her courage and perseverance was finally rewarded when she was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Vache’ on February 23, 1985 and later, on January 25, 1986, a priest in the Church of God.

“If I had known what was in store for me, I think I would have thought more than twice about embarking on this journey.” – The Rev. Susan B. Bowman, “Lady Father”

After 15 years of parish ministry, during which Rev. Bowman was disrespected, maligned, and even called names, the joy she had found in her ministry to many faithful Episcopalians began to be overshadowed by the mistreatment leaving her at the point of despair which nearly led to her resigning from the priesthood, the Church, and even Christianity. It was again God’s intervention which led her to ministry in a tiny United Methodist congregation where she served as “Pastor-on-Loan” for 12 years and was able to find healing and to retire with joy and serenity.

To read “Per Ardua” in the Episcopal New Yorker, visit the online version at{%22issue_id%22:631033,%22publication_id%22:%2214595%22,%22page%22:16}.

About Lady Father

“Lady Father” was written by the Rev. Susan Bowman and published on May 10, 2011 by Aberdeen Bay. The website was born shortly thereafter as a home for “Lady Father” and has been a source of information about the book, theological and other more “fun” articles, as well as sermons for every season of the liturgical year. The author’s mission has been and continues to be to bring this piece of the history of women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church to the Church and, indeed, the world lest it be forgotten what an arduous journey women had to travel to serve God in his Church.


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