The Rev Natalie Loveless, vicar of St Peter and St Paul Church in Rustington has been able to introduce Laura Darrall already, through videos and live streaming.
She said Laura’s arrival had given the parish a welcome focus and there was a great deal of excitement among the church community.
Laura is one of eight candidates that the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, will ordain as deacons at an ordination service in Chichester Cathedral on Saturday, June 26.
Each new curate will then be welcomed at services in the parishes in which they will minister in the days following their ordination.
Natalie has been vicar at St Peter and St Paul for the past 18 months and says it is a lively parish and an exciting place to be.
Laura’s background is in the theatre and the arts, and Natalie is looking forward to drawing on her creative skills.
Laura said her call to the priesthood came when she began a mental health awareness campaign.
She explained: “It started with a prayer, really, and it was to show the universality of mental health. During that campaign, I began to sense God’s presence with me in a way that I’d never experienced before and it felt like a tug in my heart.”
She worked at All Saints’ Hove as pastoral assistant for a year and this ‘fleshed out her discernment’ as she lived a life of serving in a parish.
Her training has been disrupted due to Covid-19 but her uncle is a priest in Birmingham and she has been living with him and her auntie during lockdown, so has been able to be hands-on in ministry as much as possible.
Looking ahead, Natalie and Laura will be working together on finding ways to expand the church’s work in the community and reach new people.
Natalie said: “I think we will continue with the live streaming and learning about some of those ways of communicating. I think that is quite a challenge for the future, how we communicate to people and reach all sorts of people who may not come to the church.”
After a year of working in their parishes, newly-ordained deacons are then usually ordained as priest.