As a teacher, mother and wife to a successful businessman, Libby’s call to full time ministry; Priesthood no less, seemed to come out of the blue.
But of course, women simply weren’t ordained into the Priesthood at the time. So, why had God put it on her heart?
The gentle calling became more insistent over time and Libby faced an emotional roller coaster, peering over the edge, into the seemingly impossible journey that lay before her.
Her local Priest and his wife recognised the call on her life and encouraged her to commence theological study, even though it looked like she would inevitably meet a dead end.
The road ahead was hard, to say the least. Marred by rejection, discouragement and grief that often accompanies anyone embarking on an impossible journey.
Libby describes it as “the grief surrounding death, my grief was, and still is at times, incredibly intense. There were times of great darkness and loneliness, times of despair. As I have come to the slow and reluctant realization that I will probably never be ordained a priest within my own diocese, my grief has been protracted.
My calling is to the priesthood. My greatest desire is to celebrate the Eucharist.
Neither of these will happen – not because of anything I have done, but simply because of what I am – a woman.”
But what is impossible for man (or woman), is possible for God.
Libby became the first woman ordained to the priesthood for Wangaratta in 2005. But even her ordination was a complicated affair.
Because of the convoluted legalities, the service was not allowed to be held within the borders of Wangaratta Diocese, and was therefore held at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.
So, two busloads and many cars packed full with joyously enthusiastic people made the journey down to Melbourne.
Libby’s book ‘The Tapestry – One woman’s journey to Priesthood’ tells a story of prejudice and acceptance, inclusion and rejection, grief and love.
Libby hopes her experience will encourage others to embark on the seemingly impossible and she has three tips to help you embark on your journey.
Prayer and Spiritual Guidance – Feeling like you’re called to ministry is just the first step and there will be road blocks along the way. Before you take the next step, pray. Listen for God’s voice in a quiet space, away from your busy, crowded world. God will never ask you to do anything that contradicts His word, the Bible, so immerse yourself in it daily.
Support Network – Don’t do it alone – make sure you have a support network. Whether your calling is in business, the church, or the mission field, seek out mature Christians to mentor you, pray for you and offer words of wisdom when you’re uncertain. You might also require a counsellor if the going gets tough. There’s absolutely no shame in admitting you need help.
And of course, your family and friends. Surround yourself with people who share your vision and who are actively cheering you own. Their support will lift you up during the really difficult times when you feel like giving up.
Don’t be discouraged – When you put up your hand to serve God, one thing is for certain; it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. The difficult times – the rejection, hurt, grief and conflict are what made Libby’s tapestry so beautiful.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4