Bishop Beisner Ordains Eight Vocational Deacons

Bishop Beisner Ordains Eight Vocational Deacons

by Paula Schaap, Communications Director

Eight church members were ordained into the Sacred Order of Deacons to serve God’s holy, catholic and apostolic church in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

The Right Reverend Barry Beisner ordained Mara Arack, Calvin Cornils, Elizabeth Gaines, Pamela Gossard, Babette Haggenjos, Patricia Park, Anne Susan Pierson and Katherine Sefton on August 13 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Sacramento.



As vocational deacons, they are called to serve all people in the name of Jesus Christ, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely, according to the ordination service in the Book of Common Prayer.

This was the “biggest group we ever ordained,” said the Venerable Cookie Clark, Archdeacon for Diaconal Ministries.

Since 2007, 20 women and men have been ordained as vocational deacons, Archdeacon Clark said.

It’s also a sign that Bishop Beisner’s focus on spreading the Good News through a greater participation of parishioners in the diaconate has borne fruit.

“It was a goal of mine when I was consecrated Bishop to ensure that we would have a deacon in every congregation,” Bishop Beisner said.

Here are some of the ways the new deacons were formed for their ministries and where they hope to take them in the future:

Mara Arack – The Rev. Mara Arack serves in two deaneries, Semper Virens and Russian River, and is assigned to two parishes:  St. Francis, Fortuna, and St. John’s, Petaluma. Coming from a Jewish Socialist background, she was baptized at Grace Cathedral in 1969.  In addition to her professions –she was a courtroom clerk in Los Angeles Superior Court and a community college professor of English – she has worked in social ministry since she was a teenager. Most recently, she was a volunteer ombudsman for residents in skilled nursing and residential care facilities for the elderly for Area 1 Agency on Aging in Humboldt county, and a volunteer chaplain for St. Joseph’s Health Systems at Redwood Hospital in Fortuna. Rev. Arack is engaged in community organizing in Humboldt county, particularly around issues of housing for the unhoused and looks forward to learning about her Sonoma county community where she will be living half of each year.  She sees her new ministry as furthering connections between each of her parish congregations and the needs of the wider community.

Calvin Cornils –The Rev. Cornils’ home church is St. James of Jerusalem in Yuba City, a Total Ministry congregation where all endeavor to live out their Baptismal Covenant in a loving and caring community. The major portion of St. James’ outreach is focused around its 11,000-square foot garden where fresh vegetables are grown for use by the six-to-eight food closets and residential shelters in Yuba City and Marysville. Rev. Cornils’ formation was in a community of candidates from Shared Ministry churches, under the leadership of Archdeacons Cookie Clark and Gary Brown, along with Deacon Robert Olson. He is particularly grateful for the support of his wife, his St. James family and for many others in the diocese that encouraged him along his way.

Beth Gaines – The Rev. Gaines has been attending St. Paul's, Benicia since shortly after moving to Vallejo about 20 years ago. She was drawn to the beauty of the church building as well as the friendliness and welcome of the people. She became involved in Parish Health Ministries and eventually became a Stephen Ministries leader. Working full time as a public health nurse for Contra Costa County, Rev. Gaines is blessed to work with a group of caring nurses and managers who genuinely want to help its client population of marginalized, homeless and mentally ill people.

Pam Gossard – Serving as deacon at Christ Church, Eureka, the Rev. Gossard spent 30-plus years as an educator. Her formation for the diaconate came from a number of places, including the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center, fieldwork at St. Alban’s in Arcata, and the School for Deacons in Berkeley, where she was in the graduation class of 2016. Rev. Gossard credits the School for Deacons and its combination of academics, liturgy practicum, fieldwork experience, and ministry with playing a big part in her formation, but most of all, the gift of community in the support and encouragement of the faculty and classmates. Her recent ministries include Music and Arts Camps for underserved school-aged children, events for children in foster care and food pick-up at a local hospital for distribution to the homeless. Together with another new deacon, from Christ Church, the Rev. Anne Pierson, she hopes to support the parish as it reaches out to the community.

Babette Haggenjos – The Rev. Haggenjos is married to the Very Reverend Clifford Haggenjos, Rector of St. John’s, Roseville, which is also her home parish. Originally from New York, she grew up in Wisconsin and she and her husband moved to California in 2006. The mission of St. John’s is to “share the transforming love of Jesus Christ” with each other, and more importantly, with the larger Roseville community and the world. Given that mission, the Rev. Haggenjos hopes to challenge the people of God at St. John’s to first love and serve each other and then to go out into the world to love and serve the larger community at the end of each service. Always having felt a call to service, she views her ordination as a way to be a bridge between the church and the world, and the world and the church.

Patricia Park – Rev. Park has been worshipping at St. Luke’s, Auburn, for over 30 years.  She also works full time as an accounting clerk in Roseville. Rev. Park spent over 10 years touring the diocese as part of the Committee on Lay Ministry where the stories she heard about the ministries to which God was calling the people of the diocese, inspired her in her own journey. As a Deacon, she hopes to walk together with the people of St. Luke’s to begin to find out about its neighbors in the community and how to serve them.

Anne Pierson – The other newly-ordained deacon at Christ Church, Eureka, Rev. Pierson is a life-long member of the church. She served on the Vestry four times, been in charge of Outreach, started the Eucharistic Visitor program and now oversees Eucharistic Ministers and Acolytes. Since December 2000, she has served as a volunteer chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital. Rev. Pierson has owned her own business since 1972. The new deacon hopes to increase the expansion of Eucharistic Visitor programs throughout the diocese, investigate providing worship opportunities for the homeless, establish a community with Christ Church’s neighbors and discover how the diocese can better serve the blind in its faith communities.

Katherine Sefton – The Rev. Sefton, who will serve as Deacon at St. Stephens, Sebastopol, is a cradle Episcopalian and is employed as an Early Intervention Services Coordinator for North Bay Regional Center. Her field education assignment was with Home Resources Center of Catholic Charities, an eye-opening experience that changed her life. The Rev. Sefton recently joined the Board of Trustees of the School for Deacons.

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