The Rev. Cornelia Eaton and Bishop David Bailey stand together after the ordination service on Dec. 21 in Farmington.
The Rev. Cornelia Eaton and Bishop David Bailey stand together after the ordination service on Dec. 21 in Farmington. (Courtesy of Richard Snyder)
FARMINGTON — During the feast of St. Thomas on Dec. 21, 2013, Bishop David Bailey ordained Cornelia Eaton transitional deacon, making her one of two Navajo deacons serving in the Navajoland mission area.

During the ceremony, Eaton's mother, Alice Mason, presented her with her late father's diaconal stole and pectoral cross.

Bishop David Bailey told the congregation that Eaton's father, the Rev. Yazzie Mason, was ordained at the same location in the All Saints Episcopal Church in Farmington 36 years earlier. The same ordination liturgy was used for both Eaton and her father.

In addition to her father's service, Eaton's mother served as a lay pastor at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Upper Fruitland for around 30 years.

Eaton's ordination as a transitional deaconate is part of the Episcopal Church's transition to training Native American leaders to serve on and near the Navajo Nation.

In addition to Eaton and another deacon, there are also currently five Navajo postulants and three Navajo priests.

The ordination ceremony included a traditional Navajo prayer by Alex Benally, a traditional Navajo healer, as well as hymns, readings and prayers in English and Navajo.

Eaton previously served as chaplain at the All Saints Church.

As transitional deaconate, Eaton will also serve at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Upper Fruitland.