The Reverend Katherine Price has the honour of being the first female Mertonian to be ordained as an Anglican priest. She is now Chaplain of The Queen’s College, Oxford.
Katherine was brought up in the Peak District. She came to Merton in 2001 to study History and was the first person to go to Oxbridge from her school. She immediately felt at home: "I loved the traditions and the beauty of the historic buildings, and the fact that I didn't need wealth or birth to belong here." Because of the sort of community that Merton is, Katherine is still in touch with friends she made in her first term. Oxford is also where she met her husband in the Chapel of Exeter College, where they later married.
Katherine stayed on at Merton for a graduate year to do an MSt in historical research, and then spent five years with a small public sector organisation in Cheshire. Here, she held various policy, guidance and training roles in information rights law.
Most importantly for what she has ended up doing in life, she was baptised in 2008. She was selected for ordination training in 2011 and spent three years at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield in West Yorkshire, living alongside a monastic community.
A curacy at Grimsby Minster followed, before Katherine returned to Oxford in 2017 to become Chaplain of The Queen’s College. As if this and recent motherhood were not enough, she is also undertaking part-time doctoral studies, researching the relationship between the local and universal church in the Anglican Communion and Eastern Orthodoxy.
"Having been brought up an atheist, mine has been a rather rambling spiritual journey," Katherine admits. She wrote about this journey from atheism to ordination in a memoir, I Think It's God Calling: A Vocation Diary (BRF, 2015). This is what she wrote about her first year as a curate:
"Nothing really prepares you for this – for how difficult it is, but also how straightforward. You spend two or three years learning the theory and looking at the way things are done by various churches and clergy. You reflect on it, you discuss it, you think about how you would do it … and then, when your turn comes, you just do it. Not in the way you were taught or the way you’d decided was best; just whatever way they do it here."
And now, for Katherine, ‘here’ is The Queen’s College Chapel. She derives a wry amusement from the fact that there is a certain amount of rivalry with the Merton College Choir. She refuses to be drawn on where her loyalties lie!