Episcopal Church welcomes new rector, celebrates 106 years in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — On Saturday, Dec. 7, Catie Greene will become the first female rector in the 106-year history of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Steamboat Springs.
“It’s not something that I was seeking,” Greene said. “I’m not afraid to walk alongside as part of that movement — the feminist movement or even just women in leadership movement — but I’m very clear to say that that’s not my agenda. My agenda is in our baptismal covenant. We make a few promises — one of them is to seek and serve Christ in all people, and the other is to respect the dignity of every human being. If I had to choose my agenda, my mission, it’s those two things.”
Greene will be installed as the fifth rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in a public ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday at the church, which is located at 846 Oak St. Rev. Kimberly Lucas will preside over the ceremony, which will be followed by a luncheon at Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.
Greene’s installation falls on the same day as the church’s 106-year anniversary and Greene’s 17th anniversary as an ordained priest.
Greene grew up near Danville, California, outside of San Francisco. She attended college at the University of California San Diego where she majored in animal science and neuroscience.
But after college, Greene came to Colorado to live with family and enjoy the outdoors lifestyle — something she had always been drawn to. She finished out her degree, but instead of pursuing a career, she turned her attention to a list of things to accomplish.
“I did not want to focus so much on what my career was supposed to be, but more about what I really wanted out of life,” Greene said. “Long before I had ever heard the term bucket list, I made my list of things to do before I died. One of them was live in Colorado.”
So, she packed up her Mazda sedan and made the trip from Southern California to Denver. She eventually ended up in Steamboat, where she lived with an old college roommate and drove a shuttle for Steamboat Resort.
“I was living my dream,” Greene said. “I had lined up some work for the summer. It was a combination of working on a ranch and bartending. I had also been offered the managerial position with the shuttle vans the following fall.”
But at the end of the winter, she got the bad news that her dad had been diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer, and she headed back home.
“I was pretty angsty, pretty scared and pretty unhappy,” Greene recalls. “I didn’t necessarily know how to describe it. I was really mad about having to share a bedroom with my sister at my parents’ house at this point in time in my life.”
But as her dad battled cancer, Greene, who has grown up in the Episcopal Church, got a call from an old friend that had been a volunteer youth minister in her church. He needed someone to be a cabin counselor at a church summer camp. The invitation brought Greene back into the church and provided an unexpected path.
A little over a year after being diagnosed, Greene’s father died, and she sought comfort and direction in her new role.
Greene took part in a youth ministry academy put on by the Episcopal Church and took a part-time job working in the bishop’s office coordinating youth events, camps and conferences.
Greene said she had no real desire to become a priest but had found new meaning at church and helping young people. She also experienced something she could not ignore.
“I was driving, and I had this, I would say out-of-body experience, but actually, I had never-felt-more-grounded-in-my-life moment,” Greene said. “God told me he wanted me to be his priest.”
Greene said that calling was the reason she traveled to a seminary in Illinois outside of Chicago and studied for the next three years. She graduated June 2002, and then in December 2002, she was ordained into the priesthood.
In Steamboat, Greene acted as director of the Centennial House and then was asked by the bishop in Denver to step into the role of priest in charge after rector Scott Turner stepped down a little more than two years ago.
As priest in charge, Greene has made an impression with longtime congregation member Roger Young.
“She never forgets a name. She knows the name of the infant who was born yesterday and the name of the oldest person in the church. She knows them all,” Young said. “She’s also very good in terms of pastoral work, you know. If somebody is sick, or somebody is dying or somebody is not in church for some reason, she will be at their side.
Nancy Kramer, who has been involved with the church since 1980, has gotten to know Greene through the Episcopal Youth Corps and her involvement with a nonprofit that worked with the Centennial House.
“Catie is awesome,” said Kramer, who took on a leadership role a few years later. “We are so thrilled. It’s taken about 18 months to really go through the process of reviewing our history, looking at where we are now, as a congregation and family, and deciding how do we want to move forward as a Christian family.”
She feels like Greene has a great combination of administrative and spiritual skills.
“Being the rector can be challenging because you have your spiritual life and the spiritual gifts that you bring, but you also have to have that leadership and management skill set,” Kramer said.
The church’s senior warden, Rick Wodnik who has been a member of the congregation agrees.
“We were following a process put out by our diocese, but we had a lot of incentive to do it right,” Wodnik said. “We just wanted to make sure we got the right person and with the right capabilities and that fit into our community.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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