Rev Linda Fisher Privitera

 
I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., as part of the Baby Boomers, my parents marrying after the end of World War II. My only sister was born four years later. My father had been a bomber pilot in England, was shot down in Germany where he was a prisoner of war for a year, then repatriated to Walter Reed Hospital where my mother as an army nurse cared for him. He had degrees in economics and history and decided to become a businessman after touring the United States for the State Department's Next of Kin tour to bring word about those still held in German camps. My mother was a housewife and again needed to care for my father when he developed cancer; he died at home when I was 14 and my sister was 10. His loss was devastating for us. We moved to Washington, D.C. then to be close to other members of my mother's family. I was in high school when President John Kennedy was assassinated. Band and orchestra for 2 hours every day helped heal my grief and gave me a community.

My undergraduate work was in nursing; a five year program granted us a bachelor's degree while we worked in the hospital complex in downtown Richmond, Va. The federal desegregation laws impacted this former capital of the Confederacy and I saw the Ku Klux Klan marching in protest against civil rights. I was confronted with systemic racism in the delivery of health care and in the social climate of the South. My own social conscience was formed by what I experienced and by those who were my patients, many of them poor and from rural as well as city areas. I began attending the Episcopal church near the campus, and left the Methodist roots of my family, mostly due to the discrimination I saw in church. My only two electives in college were art and religion which have influenced me a great deal. 

I married young and had/have three lovely daughters. We moved to Kansas for Air Force years and then back to the east coast, first in Connecticut and then Massachusetts. My former husband is a retired physician; we delight in our grandchildren and have made peace with each other. My first seminary training was at Yale University's Divinity School where I became a part of the second wave of women's ordinations. I also received a certificate in Anglican Studies from the Berkeley Divinity School. My initial formation as a priest came at the same time as the prayer book and hymnal revisions in the Episcopal Church where I was a priest for 20 years. I served mostly urban parishes, both large and small; my most recent parish was in Arlington, MA., just northwest of Boston. 

My doctoral work is in congregational development with an emphasis on new models for priests and people in the area of transformation. The thesis dealt with multiculturalism, healing, and spiritual development and highlighted the value of the arts in dynamic parishes in the United States. This includes both visual and performance arts and involves the participation of all in revitalized worship. This degree was received at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Ma. Our parish was able to provide a learning community for students and for those in formation as priests and deacons. We also moved from being a small family sized parish to one of pastoral size where mission was our model for parish life. We became outward focused, sending and serving in many areas. We highlighted our vocations in the world and understood ourselves as living out our baptismal promises beyond the doors of the church building. Our parish grew and was filled with young families. We were multicultural in many ways; we learned to value and welcome diversity. 

My spiritual journey has been marked by geographical, cultural, familial and theological influences. I am someone who believes in the radical inclusivity of the gospel of Jesus and I am also someone who hopes that the church can live into the 21st century with a sense that God is doing a new thing with institutions, with the people of God who come in a mosaic of beliefs and patterns. I believe in baptismal ministry with each one of us called to offer our gifts in the world and to partner with God in reconciliation, compassion for the people and the planet, expecting the Spirit to drive us out into new areas. 

I am a working artist and am part of the Foyer Gallery in the Nepean Sportsplex, entrance #1. My art is heavily influenced by my faith; my teacher was Tom Lewis of the Ploughshares group who died just last week in Worcester, Ma. Tom and the Berrigan brothers were part of the Catholic worker movement led by Dorothy Day. They were peace activists who often spent time in jail for civil disobedience. I often seek to find beauty in the midst of lament which I believe is a part of our faith as well. I am an avid gardener, a reader of mysteries, a spouse to my partner Melissa, a mother, grandmother, sister and friend. I have been in Canada for 2 ½ years now and feel I am at home in the generous Canadian geography. I at least know the names of the provinces now, unlike most Americans. 

- Linda Privitera