A bishop with one of the most enduring visions for a modem-day, all-male Episcopal Church priesthood will be present for the Jan. 22 consecration and ordination of his daughter, the Rev. Bavi Edna Rivera as Bishop Suffragan of Olympia. When interviewed by The Living Church on Nov. 29, discussion was still ongoing about the precise nature of his liturgical participation, but the Rt. Rev. Victor Manuel Rivera, retired Bishop of San Joaquin (1968-88), has already given his daughter the red episcopal cope he wore during his episcopacy.
“I am sure I will feel encased in love,” Bishop-elect Rivera said. “My father was a wonderful bishop. Elisha asked for and received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. If I get just half my dad’s spirit when I receive his mantle, I will be thrilled and well equipped for my future ministry.”
The Diocese of San Joaquin is one of only three in the Episcopal Church where the traditional theological understanding of the apostolic succession is official policy. For a number of years after her own 1976 ordination to the priesthood, however, Bishop-elect Rivera remembers being on the opposite side of the issue of ordination of women from her father, both in family discussions and in the official responsibilities both have fulfilled in separate houses of the bicameral General Convention.
Toward the end of his daughter ‘s 10-year tenure as rector of St. Aidan’s Church, San Francisco, Bishop Rivera abruptly asked her whether she was in the search process for the episcopacy anywhere. At the time she was not and said she considered the prospect unlikely. Further signs of a change in their theological standoff emerged July 15, her last Sunday as rector at St. Aidan’s when Bishop Rivera received communion from his daughter for the first time.
“We haven’t really talked yet about what or how he has changed in his position,” she said. “He did seem very excited when I subsequently told him I was being considered by Olympia. I’ve always known that he believed in me. Since his retirement we’ve talked a lot about the priesthood in the Church in the 21st century. It’s been wonderful.”
This article was first published in the December 19, 2004 issue of The Living Church.