Four Childhood Schoolmates Celebrate Ordinations Together

Four Childhood Schoolmates Celebrate Ordinations Together

(L to R) Regional Minister Tamara Moreland with Erica Neirendorf, Donna Manocchio, Lisa Eleck and Barbara Hess
Who would have guessed?  Four women from the same small town and public high school, who graduated and went on to different careers, have now been ordained in the United Church of Christ.  Who would have guessed?

As the most recent to be ordained, I was thrilled to have the Rev. Donna Manocchio, the Rev. Erica Nierendorf, and the Rev. Barbara Hesse attend my ordination on Jan. 28, 2018.  All of us grew up in Wethersfield and attended Wethersfield High School at the same time.  While I did not know Donna until I met her when she was the pastor at Rocky Hill Congregational Church (where she was instrumental in my discernment process), I have known Erica and Barb since middle school.  We all were involved in our respective churches.  Erica and Barb belonged to different UCC churches and Donna and I belonged to different Catholic parishes. While people tell me that middle school girls do not typically debate whether the sacrament of Holy Communion is a matter of transubstantiation or consubstantiation, I recall having many discussions over that and other faith related matters with Erica those many years ago.

Just over two years ago I learned that my two middle school friends were being ordained.  It was a wonderful surprise, though I was not actually surprised to hear that my friends had gone into ministry. With our schedules pulling us in different directions, we were not able to get together until the UCC Annual Meeting in June. Then Erica, Barb and I actually shared our first meal together in over 40 years.  It was amazing to share our stories! Clearly, God has led each of us through our individual journeys toward Christian ministry.

My ordination was an awesome experience for me.  Ordination, in itself, is such a blessing.  But to be able to share that special time with those who have shared my journey toward ministry and friends from so many years ago, made my ordination even more special.  Now I look forward to sharing stories and ministerial journeys with these three amazing UCC ministers.  Who would have guessed?
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