Former Rhinelander journalist finds her calling, returns to serve
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
It was a dark and stormy night, Meredyth Albright recalled, when the pieces of her new life started falling into place. The longtime journalist and newspaper editor had left Rhinelander for a new job in Iola in 2007, but that was only the start of the changes she was about to experience over the next several years.
“When I left here I knew I was searching for something,” Albright explained. “I knew professionally I wanted to do something different, that matched me better, but I didn’t know what that was.”
She enrolled in a class, Education for Ministry, shortly after her move. It was while sitting in that class that the power went out during a rain storm. As the thunder cracked and lightening struck, Albright said she began to see that her future was in the Episcopal Church.
“Something said, you need to talk to the priest, there is a place for you in the church,” she said. “It truly is a calling and you can’t describe it in words. Your brain starts processing that this is what I am supposed to be doing and why.”
No longer questioning the direction her life was headed, Albright attended the Nashotah House Seminary, graduated and was ordained an Episcopal priest in June, 2012. On All Saints Day, Nov. 1, 2016, Albright will become the parish priest at Saint Augustine’s in Rhinelander.
As priest, also called a rector, Albright will be tasked with taking care of daily spiritual and pastoral needs of parishioners and helping the parish “continue its mission in the community, growing God’s kingdom and serving.”
Searching for a “church community” as a young person led Albright to Saint Augustine’s.
“I went to a Catholic college as a non-Catholic,” she said. “I really liked the liturgy and missed that (after graduation); I wanted a church community that had tradition but was also progressive – the Episcopal Church really matched that.”
Her perceptive listening skills and objectivity learned as a journalist are a good match for the ministry, she said. Albright’s experience while in the seminary, recovering from a serious illness which included several weeks in a coma, left her more humble, sensitive and open to change.
“Even though I was already called, the focus of my ministry was formed at that time,” Albright said. “I think I am a very different person after that experience.”
Starting her new job in a familiar setting, Albright said she has ideas of things she’d like to try with the parish, but nothing scary. People, she said, talk about how they don’t like change, “but truth be told, you have to change to stay the same.”
She plans small get-to-know-you sessions to learn what the church members’ needs are, how they want to serve in the community, their abilities and interests.
“My goal would be having people involved in the church and the community at a level at which they are comfortable and we feel we are living the gospel,” according to Albright. “It isn’t always safe and you don’t always succeed. The old adage, God works in mysterious ways is really very, very true.”