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VTS Alumna First Frenchwoman Ordained A Priest in Episcopal Church

2/4/2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Curtis Prather
Tel: 703-461-1782
Email: cprather@vts.edu

Alexandria, Va. -
Virginia Theological Seminary congratulates the Rev. Fanny Sohet Belanger (VTS ’13), who was ordained into the Sacred Order of Priests in the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) Saturday in a service led by the Rt. Rev. Pierre Welté Whalon (VTS ‘85), bishop-in-charge of Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. She is the first Frenchwoman ordained as an Episcopal priest.

"It is a great privilege to ordain Fanny Belanger today as the first French female Episcopal priest,” said Bishop Whalon. “I have overseen her process to this day, and she will be, I am convinced, a great leader in our Church. It is especially meaningful to ordain her here in my beloved Virginia Seminary. I eagerly look forward to seeing what the Spirit has in store for Fanny and her husband Xavier."

Currently an intern at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington D.C., Belanger was born in Grenoble, France, and lived there most of her life. In 1996 she received a Master of Philosophy from the University Jean Moulin in Lyon; a university diploma in business intelligence from IUT 2 in Grenoble; and in 2010, earned a Bachelor of Theology from the University Marc Bloch in Strasbourg. She and her husband, Xavier, moved to the United States in 2011, where Belanger completed her Master in Divinity with honors two years later at VTS.

During Saturday’s service, Whalon spoke directly to Belanger: “You are a woman of great gifts, among which is an ability to bring the Gospel to all kinds of people. You are a fisher of people too. But before anything else, you must always make sure you are following where Christ is leading."

Presenters included the Rev. Luis Leon (VTS ‘77), rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church Washington, D.C., where Belanger served as a seminarian from Sept. 2011 to May 2013. The historic bilingual service was streamed live over the Internet to viewers in France from the VTS Lettie Pate Evans Interim Chapel, where Belanger had been ordained as a deacon in 2013.

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Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.