Li Selman will be ordained as a deacon at Truro Cathedral on June 25. For Li, a former school teacher, the service will see her finally achieving something she always felt would happen.

Describing herself as a proud miner’s daughter from Barnsley, Li’s path was not an obvious one. Despite growing up in a family that was ‘non-church’, Li says she has always had a strong feeling of God’s presence in her life.

“I remember kneeling as a child and giving my life to God. I remember reading my children’s bible, a gift from an observant aunt and taking myself off to Methodist Sunday School. My first NIV bible was also a gift, given to me by a friend at university.”

Coming from a mining community, Li and her family bucked the trend when she went to university. She became a primary teacher because that’s what she thought people with degrees did and admits she didn’t even know there was such a thing as a theology degree.

In fact, it wasn’t until she had children of her own that her relationship with church really began. After having her children baptised, Li got involved in the local toddler group and then went on to do an Alpha course and things became serious.

“I had a strong feeling I had to commit everything”

“I had a really strong feeling that I had to commit everything so it was either ordained ministry or the monastery. But then life got in the way. I divorced, then remarried and was trying to raise five young children while also juggling my job as a teacher. My religious life revolved around school; nurturing the Christian ethos, organising the school’s RE curriculum, leading assemblies and maintaining the school’s links with our church families.”

It was at school that her calling was finally answered. “Over the years I had probably told a few priests about my calling. One day a new priest came in and within seconds I had blurted out that I was called to be a priest. And this priest listened.

“I guess it is kind of strange but I have always known I was meant to follow this path. But there was also a feeling of ‘how on earth could that be me?’ In the discernment process and training it has been one step at a time. I think lots of people have that feeling of unworthiness. That was something I felt strongly.”

“I feel called to love people for God”

“There’s a lot of broken people out there who need to know God loves them. I can remember during part of the process of discernment, I just felt the overwhelming knowledge of how much God loves each individual person. So, I guess I feel called to love people for God, I will see what comes out of that.”

Li’s family and friends are all supportive of her journey. “My father died before I started discernment and my mum is coming round to it. She did think I was completely mad at first, although she has recently told me she has prayed every day of her life!”

“There have been bumps along the way but my husband and kids are really supportive and all at different stages of their own journeys with God. I think my family feels like it is something I should always have been doing.”

Li has also had support from her former schools, St Mellion and St Dominic. “They have just been amazingly supportive allowing me to teach part time so I could study and following my journey with interest.” Li left the schools at Easter to prepare for her ordination.

Li will spend her curacy in the Benefice of Menheniot, the Benefice of St Cleer and the Benefice of St Ive and Pensilva with Quethiock with Revd Becca Bell.

While children’s ministry will play a large part in Li’s life, she is open to seeing where she is lead. “I have a real passion for helping people die well. I did a placement with the chaplaincy team at Derriford Hospital and felt that God spoke to me in a powerful way.”

Li says it has been an absolute privilege during her training to have the time to study and be with God and she is looking forward to the privilege of sharing the journey with others.