Sunday, August 28, 2005

Trail-blazing woman Episcopal priest dies :: Boston Globe


SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine --The Rev. Katrina Swanson, one of the first women to be ordained as an Episcopal priest, died Saturday at her home in Manset village. She was 70. The fourth generation of her family to enter the ministry, Swanson was one of the "Philadelphia 11," a group of women ordained in an irregular and controversial ceremony in that city on July 29, 1974. The Radcliffe graduate was ordained by her father, the late Rt. Rev. Edward Welles II, who had advocated ordination of women in a book published in England in 1928.
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Swanson's status as a priest became official after the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women in 1976. Two years later, she became a rector of St. John's Parish in Union City, N.J., where she instituted bilingual Spanish and English services and established an after-school program for children.

Until then, Swanson's path was not simple. When she returned home to Kansas City, Mo., after the Philadelphia ordination, her husband, who was rector of an inner city parish there, had to fire her as his unpaid assistant priest to keep his job. Subsequently, Katrina Swanson was hired for a dollar a year as assistant priest at the Church of the Liberation in St. Louis. In 1975 Swanson signed a three months suspension from her deacon's ministry under the threat of an ecclesiastical trial. She was the only one of the Philadelphia 11 and the ordaining bishops to receive ecclesiastical punishment.

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