The Revd Canon Dr Vicentia Refiloe Kgabe
This year on the 7th December I will be marking 15 years as an ordained priest in our church and the journey has been very interesting thus far. In 1992 I was 16 years old when I sensed a calling to the ordained and the first person I shared this yearning/sense of calling with was my grandmother who subsequently shared the news with my parish priest. And the Provincial Synod meeting in Swaziland was extensively covered by the newspapers and bought a copy every day to follow the deliberations (I still have the newspaper clippings).
It was only when I completed Matric (Grade 12) aged 18 that my parish priest formerly talked with me about the process of ordination and later the parish council recommended me to be a member of the Fellowship of Vocation. My first FOV meeting coincided with my best friend wedding and I was part of her bridal party, that was the first of many tough decisions/ choices I was to make between church, family, and friends. I choose to attend the fellowship of vocation meeting and my best friend forgave me for bailing out on her at the last minute.
As I began this journey of discerning what God was calling me to, I was introduced to Revd Vanessa Mackenzie and Revd Phyllis Mgquba whom I’m grateful that our paths crossed and blessed to have them as mentors.
After my time of studying and formation and the College of Transfiguration – Grahamstown, I was sent by the diocese to serve as a lay worker for 1 year at St. Aidan’s Parish in Yeoville. And was made Deacon in December 2002 and three months later placed in Soweto where I served my curacy in what was known as Holy Cross Training Axis made up of 6 parishes. During my three years there, I served in three parishes Holy Cross – Orlando West, Church of the Resurrection – Meadowlands and St. Paul – Jabavu. And was ordained priest in June 2003. I have served the last curacy at St. Monica – Halfway Gardens-Midrand, and priest-in-charge of All Saints – Rabie Ridge. Was appointed to serve as Rector of St. Peter’s – Auckland Park and later appointed at St. Michael and All Angels – Weltevreden Park.
I have cherished every leadership role that I have been granted by the church starting with being a Head Server to the current post as Rector of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa only remaining residential Theological College. And I have been taught about leadership and being a pastoral caregiver directly and indirectly.
What I know for sure is that I love God more than I love the church (the institution) and that knowledge has seen me through the challenging times in the ministry. What I can sight as the lows of the journey is being judged superficially based on my age, race, and gender and having to continuously work triple hard to prove why me, why here and why now.
My message to the upcoming leaders is that – you must be a team player, equip yourself with knowledge and skills, be a self-starter, ask for help – it’s a sign of strength and not weakness, love those in your care regardless. And never compromise your values and self, lastly laugh and play more.”