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Sentamu sowed the seed in her mind

08 July 2016

Catherine Okoronkwo was ordained deacon at Lichfield Cathedral on 26 June and is serving her title at All Saints’, Streetly, near Sutton Coldfield.

She puts her decision to become a priest down to a chance meeting ten years earlier with the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, at the Birmingham church where she worshipped.

“I was introduced to him, and, as I shook his hand, he just said: ‘Have you thought about ordination?’ There was no preamble, no discussion: that was it. I was ‘Oh? Gosh!’ I hadn’t really thought about it, It was just so bizarre.”

Ms Okoronkwo, who is 44, and the daughter of a Nigerian diplomat with the UN, had always thought she would take up some form of work with the church, possibly as missionary, and had attended Redcliffe Bible College in Gloucester; but she had opted for a career as a teacher. “However, I kept thinking about ministry and service to God,” she said.

“But it was not until I went to Keele University in 2013 to do a Ph.D. that I said: ‘OK, Lord, I am ready to re-engage with this whole thing about ordained ministry.’ That chance meeting with the Archbishop was a key moment in helping me to take this calling seriously.

“I think I needed to get through the teaching and have a bit of life experience first, but I think I will make a better minister for having had that experience.”

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