MASSENA — A longtime member of St. John’s Episcopal Church was ordained to the priesthood and installed as the church’s new rector during ceremonies on Saturday afternoon.
Sonya A. Boyce was ordained by William Love, bishop of Albany, during the ceremony, which was attended by a full church of family and friends.
Among those in attendance was the Rev. Elizabeth Papazoglakis, who led St. John’s from 2013 to 2015.
“I cannot begin to tell you what a joy it is to be here today at St. John’s in Massena,” the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said.
The Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said she had sensed that the Rev. Mrs. Boyce was a perfect candidate for the ministry.
“Sonya, as I have grown to know you and to love you as a fellow Christian and friend, I sensed your call to ordained ministry,” she said. “It did not take long for Tom (the Rev. Mr. Tom Papazoglakis) and me to discern that you truly had the heart of a pastor along with the wisdom and vision of a leader — important gifts that God has given you that will serve you well in your priestly ministry and responsibilities.”
The Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said the Rev. Mrs. Boyce was in a unique position in the congregation.
“Sonya was raised up to serve as priest in the same community where she had been one of you for an awfully long time,” the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said, addressing the crowd. “She has served faithfully as a co-worker of our lord and lay leader with many of you for many years.”
That, she said, can be both a blessing and a curse.
“On the blessing side, Sonya knows as much for who you are and where you are. You know and love her. There are no surprises. You all know the very human, genuine and authentic Sonya,” she said.
However, the Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said it could be a challenge to serve a new role with new responsibilities in a church where the Rev. Boyce had been a member for so long.
“Sonya know you and loves you as a friend you certainly are. However, unless you allow her into your heart and lives as a priest, it will be very hard for her to be your priest,” she said.
“In a few minutes, Deacon Sonya will become Mother Sonya, and her role in the life of St. John’s Massena will change forever. She will be the rector of this parish and pastor to this community. For some, it might seem a little awkward at first to think of Sonya as Mother Sonya. It’s much easier for me when I came here to serve at St. John’s because you only knew me as Mother Elizabeth. I encourage each one of you to find your own way of letting Mother Sonya into your heart and mind as your priest and pastor,” she sad.
The Rev. Mrs. Papazoglakis said God would use the Rev. Mrs. Boyce “to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to this parish, to this community for many years.”
“Thank you for allowing me to be part of this marvelous journey,” she said. The Rev. Mrs. Boyce was presented to Bishop Love to be ordained a priest.
“We certify to you that she has satisfied the requirements of the canons, and we believe her to be qualified for this order,” the presenters said.
She was vested with a stole during the ceremony and, as part of the induction, she received a vessel of water, a book of prayers, olive oil, the keys to the church, the constitution and canons of the church, and bread and wine.
“Sonya, let all these be signs of the ministry which is mine and yours in this place,” Bishop Love said.
Bishop Love blessed and rededicated St. John’s during the church’s 9 a.m. service on Sunday, wrapping up events that celebrated the church’s 150th birthday. St. John’s Episcopal Church was incorporated on Sept. 15, 1869, and events had been held in September to celebrate the occasion.