December 20, 2013

From Glock to God


AUSABLE FORKS — The Rev. Ana Rivera-Georgescu is a mother four times over now.

The mother of three was ordained as priest last Sunday at St. James’ Episcopal Church in AuSable Forks.

“Mother Ana” is the first woman vicar at St. James and the 30th female priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. There are 198 total priests in the diocese.

“The people of St. James are really so welcoming, and the community is so welcoming,” Rivera-Georgescu said. “I feel very blessed.”

It was a long road from her Puerto-Rican roots in New York City to the vicarage at St. James.

“My mother is from Santurce, and my father is from San Germán,” she said. “My mother is Margarita. My father was Mario. I was an only child. I grew up in the faith tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. My uncle from my father’s side, my uncle Carlos Rivera, was a pastor of Assembly of God in San Germán. I grew up with both of these influences from the Pentecostal influence and Roman-Catholic influence. I think God was really working. I’m here in the Episcopal Church. We have a wonderful mix of traditions, a liturgical tradition, and we also have wonderful movement of the Holy Spirit, kind of charismatic movement as well in the Episcopal Church. It’s a coming together of all these wonderful traditions, and all are welcome.”

Since she was very young, Rivera-Georgescu felt a call to serve her Lord and her God.

After graduating from Adlai E. Stevenson High School in the Bronx, she attended the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

At a job fair there, she was recruited by the New York City Police Department.

“I took the exam, and God was just wonderful,” said Rivera-Georgescu, who eventually was in the pilot program of officers with a choice of Glocks for weapons. “I went to the New York City Police Academy and completed the academy. I became a police officer. I was stationed in the South Bronx. It was the ‘90s. One of my assignments was Radio Motor Patrol, RMP, and I responded to calls on the radio. Then, my last assignment was the Domestic Violence Unit.”

She married Florin Georgescu, a federal-law enforcement officer, who served more than two decades as a first responder working with FEMA and as an EMT. He’s now a full-time student, studying history at SUNY Plattsburgh.

“He was an only child as well,” Rivera-Georgescu said. “We wanted a family. We prayed about having a family. We came to the North Country. He had family in Canada. As a federal officer, you can move throughout the U.S. We looked at other places. We were just led here. It was just a wonderful place. We came here 16-17 years ago. I remember being here for the Ice Storm. It was just a beautiful place.”

She, her husband and their children — Crystal, Michael and Maria — worshiped at Trinity Episcopal Church in Plattsburgh. She worked at the Vermont Department of Corrections.

“When Father Sorensen was here,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful family. The people have always been welcoming and supportive. The people here and being here really helped that journey with the church.”

The Rev. Colin Belton, rector at Trinity, along with personnel at the Diocese of Albany, helped her discern her calling through prayer and support.

“This had been a journey with the Lord, with their help up to the ordination,” she said.

Rivera-Georgescu attended Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. The two-year program was a hybrid. She attended intensives in Wisconsin but returned home to do online course work in her local parish.

“You communicate with your instructors online and over the telephone and video chats, whatever our professor arranged, but it’s very, very good.”

Rivera-Georgescu graduated in May, and she was ordained a deacon in June. At SUNY Plattsburgh, she served as Protestant Campus Minister and Chaplain.

St. James’ had been without a priest for nearly two and a half years. The Rev. Patricia Johnson served as deacon.

“She’s a wonderful, wonderful lady,” Rivera-Georgescu said. “She’s a nurse at CVPH. She offered her services and support when there were no priests there.”

Asked how she balanced her responsibilities as wife, mother and student, Rivera-Georgescu said:

“It’s only through God. He will definitely empower you and give you the energy and support. I could not have done it without their (her family’s) support. I praise God and thank God. They are the first ones that encouraged me to take that step and go to Father Colin. Together, we have gone on this journey, and it has been incredible. I praise God.”

Rivera-Georgescu’s ordination was a family affair.

“My son, Michael, was crucifer. My daughter was acolyting,” she said. “The ceremony was wonderful. It was just amazing to pray and to worship and to celebrate.”

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