God had other plans for actor wannabe

God had other plans for actor wannabe
Max Moorehead, J.D. Moorehead, family friend Demaj Thompson, Kate Moorehead, Jake Moorehead (oldest son, Luke, not present)

The Very Reverend Katherine B. Moorehead, 47, serves as the 10th Dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. She is the first female dean in the Diocese of Florida and the only female dean in Province IV, the Province of Sewanee, one of nine ecclesiastical provinces of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., but don’t let those unrivaled titles give you pause. Moorehead, of Avondale, has some other surprising things to share, including the upcoming publication of her fifth book, “I Witness: Living Inside the Stories of Advent and Christmas.”

Q. What compelled you to work in orphanages in Russia?  

A. I was moved by the suffering of the Russian people under the Soviet regime when my grandparents took me there. I was 12 at the time. I began to study the Russian language in college and travelled to Russia to study the liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church for my senior thesis at Vassar. It was an Orthodox priest who first introduced me to the children in the orphanages, where I worked during the summers of 1991 and 1992.

Q. When did you first feel the calling to become a priest?

A. I was in college when I first felt called by God to become a priest. Before that, I wanted to become the next Meryl Streep. I went to Vassar College because Meryl went there, but I guess God had other plans.

Q. Are you following in someone’s theological footsteps?

A. My ancestors were missionaries to the Gilbert Islands generations ago. My father-in-law was a Methodist minister and marched in the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis.

Q. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an ordained minister?

A. I think that my primary gifts are in preaching, writing and Pastoral care. The most important thing I believe God calls me to do is to be with people in times of need and to try to illuminate the Scripture to them. 

Q. What motivated you to write your first book, Between Two Worlds, in 2004?

A. My first published writing was an essay in a book by young priests. I wrote a funny piece about what it was like to be a pregnant priest. After that essay, a monk who worked for a publishing company asked me to write a book of meditations for the season of Advent. 

Q. What one thing would you say about Advent that might open the door to further conversation?

A. Advent is a forgotten season but it is one of the most beautiful seasons of the church year. It is all about learning to wait for the coming of Christ. Americans have forgotten the value of waiting. We are an impatient people who want fast food and fast service. To us, waiting is a sign of failure and breeds frustration but with God, waiting often produces a deeper relationship.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time? 

A. I love to walk my dogs (two Labs!), to hike, to hang out with my men (husband J.D. and sons Luke, 19, Jake, 17, and Max, 13). We have a new young man living with our family, Demaj Thompson, and he really makes me laugh. I read a lot, love movies, great food and good wine. 

Q. What’s your favorite getaway?

A. My husband and I love the remote island of St Barth’s in the French West Indies. There is a tiny church there with a small house next door. I get to serve there for a few weeks a year. Each morning, I open the doors of the church and the birds fly in and sing.

Q. What else might surprise someone to know about you?

A. I am the great-granddaughter of Hiram Bingham III, a U.S. Senator from Connecticut and explorer best known for uncovering Machu Picchu.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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