Shelly Banner, local educator and deacon, ordained to priesthood in online service

Shelly Banner (right) with the Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Bishop of Central New York (center) and the Rev. Paul Frolick, rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Liverpool (left), at the bishop’s visitation to St. Matthew’s in 2019.

OSWEGO — Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, ordained Shelly Banner to the priesthood on Sunday, July 26. In accordance with diocesan COVID-19 guidelines, in-person presence at the service, held at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Liverpool, was limited.

Banner grew up, one of 15 siblings, on a family farm south of Syracuse; she currently resides in Oswego.

She has spent most of her working life as a music educator and holds an undergraduate degree in biochemistry and music from SUNY Oswego and a master’s degree in music education from Penn State and SUNY Oswego.

Banner currently leads the vocal music program at Trinity Catholic Elementary School in Oswego and has served St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Liverpool as a deacon since 2010. She has been instrumental in building up outreach initiatives at St. Matthew’s, including launching the church’s monthly Open Table free community meal. Prior to her arrival at St. Matthew’s, she served as a deacon at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Oswego and completed an internship at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marcellus.

Banner was the first person ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Central New York during the COVID-19 pandemic. Asked how the pandemic has shaped her sense of call, Banner expresses “surprise and wonder” at the joy she finds in online worship and ministry. “Though our buildings are no longer the physical hub of our shared ministry, people are stretching beyond previous confines and learning new skills,” she says. “The church grows stronger through the love and passion we share in proclaiming God’s love for this world.”

Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe, who oversees all the clergy in the 85 congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, says, “Shelly’s curiosity, her quiet passion for justice, her ability to connect people with the Gospel through action, and her genuine love have allowed her to make a real difference as a deacon. As a priest she will be ready to help her congregations put love into action. All of us here in the Diocese of Central New York are looking forward to blessing and sharing in her calling to the priesthood. We know the Holy Spirit will continue to bless communities across Central New York through her ministry.”

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