[St. Anne’s Episcopal School] On Friday, January 20, 2012, St. Anne’s Episcopal School, Middletown, Delaware, hosted the ordination of the Rev. Gary Taylor to the sacred order of priests. Mr. Taylor joined the school in the summer as chaplain succeeding the Rev. Louise Howlett. As chaplain, he oversees the spiritual life of the school, teaching religion classes and running the school’s weekly chapel services. The ordination is the first such service that the relatively young school, which opened in 2002, has hosted.
Ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal church requires a Master of Divinity degree as well as the endorsement of a diocese and bishop. Mr. Taylor was ordained with permission of the bishop of that diocese, the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas.
Chaplain Taylor, a graduate of Yale College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, attended seminary at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. The Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of the Virginia Seminary preached at the ordination. He spoke of “apostolic succession,” a process of giving stories to tell to help people find their spiritual path, just as the original apostles of Jesus did many years ago. The noble calling, and sometimes difficult path to walk, is given to priests, not chosen, according to Rev. Markham. He invited the entire school community to support Mr. Taylor on his journey and to enjoy the gifts he will bring in the years to come.
"I am deeply honored and overjoyed to be held up by the people of two diocese as well as by the community at St. Anne’s School to serve them as their priest," Mr. Taylor said. "I have been a teacher and school-person for my entire career; while it seems unusual to many for me to be ordained at a school, in fact it fits perfectly with what I perceive as my vocation and is a deeply satisfying way for me to answer God’s call to serve."
The ordination service was held in the school’s gymnasium and featured participation from more than 35 priests as well as the Rev. Daniel R. Heischman, executive director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, the Rt. Rev. James J. Shand, Bishop of Easton and the Rt. Rev. Wayne P. Wright, Bishop of Delaware.
The school’s art department painted stained glass windows on hangings to transform the gymnasium, where the school hosts most of its chapel services, into a church-like setting. The trees, flowers, curtains and more helped create the look and feel of a sanctuary which delighted even the youngest student participants. The lower and middle school choirs sang and middle school students and student council members were ushers and acolytes.
"As a spiritual community, we are always investing in hope,” said Bishop Wright to the St. Anne’s faculty, as he discussed the ordination service prior to its taking place. "The service will show that the entire institution shares in this idea of hope, and in the idea that Chaplain Taylor will have a fruitful ministry at St. Anne’s."