|Declaring Deaconess Byllesby a Saint of Georgia|
I recently read from the website of Christ Church Augusta, Georgia that on April 15, 2012 the Episcopal Bishop of Georgia came to Christ Church to declare Ruth Byllesby, a deaconess of the Episcopal Church, a saint. Ruth served that very parish during the Great Depression and World War II.
In my recent post The Church is in Need of Her Saints I talked about the need of the church to carry on the cult of saints as a focus of community devotion by honoring both ancient and modern local 'saints.' So when I came across Christ Church's website for her I was delighted to find an example of such a saint and her parish which has chosen a feast day for her (April 25), written a collect and painted an icon to commemorate their local saint.
Deaconess Byllesby grew up in Meadville, PA, daughter to the rector of Christ Church (Meadville), but moved to Augusta, her family's winter town, because she wanted to work in a neighborhood whose resident relied largely on textile mills. During the Depression she opened rectory to the public, caring for the sick and homeless and providing food to children. This is only a very short summary of her life, more about her can be found here Deaconess Byllesby.
The point is that in many communities there have been, and are today, saintly people weather they are priests, bishops or lay people. Their lives, dedicated to Christ may help their own communities to grow towards Christ even after death.
Almighty God, who chose your servant Ruth Ellis Byllesby to serve the poor, feed the hungry, and clothe your children: give us the grace to pattern our lives after the shining example of Blessed Ruth, that we may spread the Gospel by helping those in need, with humility and the heart of a servant, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.