VirtueOnline - The Dean and rector of Gethsemane Cathedral, Fargo, ND, the Very Rev. Steven A. Sellers, is leaving his position and The Episcopal Church to seek ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. His duties at the cathedral will be taken over by the Bishop of North Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Michael Smith.
|Gethsemane Cathedral, Fargo, North Dakota|
In an e-mail, the Anglo-Catholic priest told VOL, "Our journey into the Roman Catholic Church has been a long process for Dixie and me, and it has come at the end of a year-long period of prayer and discernment. I have the utmost love and respect for Bishop Michael. He and I have become very close over the past several years, and we will continue our relationship in the coming months and years. I treasure his friendship. And I know that he is facing a very challenging few months here at Gethsemane Cathedral in Fargo, and in the diocese, as financial resources continue to fall and new ways of doing ministry are being explored.
"Our paid staff at the Cathedral is very small -- a dean, a receptionist, a part-time music minister -- and further cuts are anticipated. The financial realities resulted in my taking a 32 percent salary reduction, starting the first of this year.
"My decision to enter the Catholic Church through the Pastoral Provision process came at the end of last year, after I met at length with Cardinal DiNardo in Houston, and with Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, former Episcopal bishop of the Rio Grande and now a Catholic priest in Houston. Jeffrey has become a very good friend, and has served as a mentor and advisor for me. He is an amazing servant of the Lord.
"Because of the difficult financial shape in North Dakota, my wife has been teaching school for about 18 months in Houston, Texas, living with her cousins. Houston is home to us. I was rector of St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church there from 1994 to 1999. I am also a Texan -- spending the first 18 years of my ordained ministry in the Diocese of Texas and the Diocese of Northwest Texas. We have been in Fargo almost four years. My wife is not a Texan -- she's from Missouri -- but she has been in Texas since 1984. We are looking forward to returning closer to our roots.
"I do not leave the Episcopal Church with any sense of bitterness or anger. You don't spend almost 30 years in a church when those things are present. I am simply following a new journey in a new direction."
Sellers said that the quick sale of his home in two weeks along with the return of his wife to Houston to teach as an elementary music teacher on January 4 of this year also prompted his decision.
In response to his departure, Bishop Michael Smith wrote at his blog, "It has come to my attention that Father Steve Sellers, Dean of Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral in Fargo, has made public his decision to seek ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. I have deep affection for Father Sellers and his wife, Dixie. I wish them well and pray for God's blessing on them as they begin their journey to another part of the Body of Christ.
"Father Sellers' last Sunday at Gethsemane was to have been February 20. However, after visiting with him, we have agreed that it is best that he end his pastoral relationship with the cathedral immediately. Therefore, I will preside at the services at Gethsemane beginning this Sunday. I ask for your prayers as work begins with the Chapter in looking at next steps in organizing for the mission and ministry to which God is calling the cathedral community."