Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Niece Follows Uncle's Footsteps; 3rd-Grader Shadows Priest

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Niece Follows Uncle's Footsteps; 3rd-Grader Shadows Priest

Article excerpt

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Nine-year-old Rachel Sanford missed the ecclesial irony of her visit to St. Francis de Sales High School on "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," the national event designed to help girls think more broadly about career opportunities.

For all Rachel knew, she was simply shadowing the man who is her godfather, uncle and -- by all accounts -- one of her best friends: She spent most of the day with Fr. Jim Sanford, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales who is director of campus ministry at the 700-student, all-boy high school.

The decision to place a bright, articulate third-grader with a priest wasn't intended to make a political point about women's ordination. It was practical.

Rachel sees her mother at work daily because Mary Kay Sanford runs her own public relations business from a separate section of the family home. So Rachel spent part of the morning with her father, manager of the drug abuse prevention division for the city of Toledo, then went to St. Francis de Sales for the rest of the day.

"The decision came about when my husband and I realized neither of us would be available for the whole day," Mary Kay Sanford said. "We didn't want her to be disappointed. Since she has a strong relationship with her godfather, we decided to ask him."

So Rachel, cut loose from the school she refers to as "Our Lady of Perpetual Homework" (Help), participated awhile in her uncle's faith and prayer class, ate pepperoni pizza with him in the faculty lounge and overheard students talk about the prom, the spring musical and a recent work retreat in Mexico. …

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