#EHSServes: Rev. Becky McDaniel '95 on Her Faith Journey

This month, we’re highlighting alumni pursuing lives of service — to country, their local community, and the global community. For today’s installment, we have the Rev. Becky McDaniel ’95, who is in her second year as the school chaplain at St. Catherine's School in Richmond. Read more about McDaniel’s journey through faith in her own words. #EHSServes

What does being of service mean to you?

For me, ministry is a service of comfort, healing, and reconciliation. It is about communities seeking God together within whatever context they find themselves, whether in times of joy and celebration or in times of loss and struggle. As a priest, my role is to accompany the communities I serve through varied life experiences prayerfully, calmly, and lovingly. The role of the priest is to be a non-anxious presence in an ever-changing world. 

What prompted you to a life of service? Did Episcopal help lead you down that path?

For most of my life I have felt called to comfort people. My struggles with anxiety as a teenager led me to seek ways to help others who shared those struggles. I found that contemplative practices, both within and outside of the Church, held great healing power. Before seminary I taught yoga and meditation, worked as a hospice volunteer, and specialized in therapeutic yoga for children with autism and anxiety. It was during this time that I felt God’s call to a ministry of healing and teaching, and because I had taught middle and high school English, school chaplaincy was a natural fit.
Now that I am a school chaplain, it is interesting for me to look back upon my time as a student in chapel at Episcopal. I was a quiet and shy young girl, and I would have been absolutely terrified to stand up and speak in front of the student body. I never would have imagined that I could end up speaking in front of large numbers of people on a regular basis. My experience at Episcopal led me into a life of contemplation. Perry and Gail Epes instilled in me a love for poetry and prayer, and at the University of Virginia I majored in English with a focus on modern poetry and minored in religious studies. My teachers at Episcopal demonstrated how the written word has the power to transform people’s lives and heal the wounds of our past. I will always be grateful for the life lessons woven into academic study that make Episcopal such an important educational experience.

What do you hope your legacy will be?

In a world that is increasingly becoming more secular and less religious, it is my hope that I will have guided young people into a life of the spirit, in which they find comfort in things unseen and trust that God is with them. I hope that the role of the chaplain continues to be valued in our Episcopal schools, and I feel called to be a part of this important legacy in our various and diverse Episcopal institutions.