Lady Father

It Took a Huge Leap of Faith

Non-Fiction - Memoir
276 Pages
Reviewed on 09/18/2019
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Author Biography

Susan Bowman was born and raised in Petersburg, Virginia. In 1969 she received a BA in Philosophy from the College of William Mary. She began her long and mostly self-taught journey toward computer competency, living and working around the Southeast.

Susan worked for the City of Petersburg for almost eight years before answering a call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. She attended seminary at the University of the South’s School of Theology and graduated with a Masters of Divinity Degree in 1984.

Following her ordination to the priesthood in 1986, Susan served as Chaplain in a girls’ group home and then as Pastor for three churches until retiring in 2007. She worked as a Travel Specialist for AAA and a columnist for the AAA bi-monthly magazine, “Going Places.” In 2007, she answered another call to be “Pastor-on-Loan” to a small United Methodist congregation where she served for 12 years.

In May 2010, Susan became the Senior Editor of an online magazine, Our Heritage Magazine Online. In this capacity, she writes feature articles, recurring columns, and lead stories.

In 2011 she published her memoir, Lady Father, which traces her journey through the ordination process and subsequent ministries. Learn more about it and Susan at

She has also written a prequel to Lady Father, “God is in the Journey,” which is available as a Kindle eBook on She is retired and living in upstate New York where she volunteers for Hospice.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite

In her honest and touching memoir, Lady Father, Rev. Susan B. Bowman recalls difficulties and prejudices she had to overcome before being ordained. She was the first woman to become a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. Her account is an inspiration for all those persons, and especially women, who need the motivation to do something unusual but legitimate. Rev. Bowman’s story begins in the 1970s. She remembers her experiences with prelates, including the bishop who gave her the chance to follow her path, and later with her parishioners, who did not always trust her. As she points out, the ordination process is now different, but the debate about whether women should be ordained as priests is still an important topic of discussion.

Lady Father is a book that offers many reasons to reflect and, at the same time, it is an engaging read. As the debate on ordination is still a delicate topic, Rev. Bowman’s remarks are praiseworthy both for their insight and grace. There were many ways in which she could tell her story, but she chose the gentlest. She also knows how to present her experiences without being dull. Rev. Bowman’s courage and determination are evident from these pages as much as the personalities of the people she met on her journey. One thing I like is that Rev. Bowman does not focus only on unhappy events and difficulties, but she also recalls some moments of relief. In this way, the reading becomes easier and more realistic. No one’s life is only black and white and, acknowledging this, Rev. Bowman gives a sincere account. I am sure that everyone can learn something valuable from Lady Father.