In honor of the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Susan H. Lee, a service of Holy Eucharist will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 315 Warren St., Fall River.
Lee received her bachelor's degree from Brown University and completed a Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School. She was ordained deacon in Providence, Rhode Island, in June 1988 and began her ministry at St. Luke's on July 1, 1988. The Rt. Rev. George Hunt ordained her to the priesthood on March 4, 1989, in a liturgy at the church. Lee was the first woman ordained in the city of Fall River and the service was covered widely in the press. She served as associate rector and co-rector with the Rev. James Hornsby for 14 years before becoming rector in 2002.
During her ministry at St. Luke's Church, Rev. Lee took a major role in welcoming Cambodian refugees to the parish and helping them become integrated into American society. In her early years, she organized Khmer language classes for social service providers and others interested in the growing Cambodian population in Fall River. She studied Khmer herself at the University of Hawaii, the University of Wisconsin, and the Cambodian Buddhist temple in Fall River, Wat Udomsaharatanaram. Lee integrated Khmer-language Scripture readings and prayers into the liturgy at St. Luke's and gave sermons in Khmer. She assisted Cambodian parishioners in applying for relatives and friends to migrate to the United States, with many arriving under the Diversity Visa program. Lee organized youth activities for Cambodian-American youngsters, including an annual camping trip at Myles Standish State Forest, and led a Cambodian Junior Choir for several years. The Cambodian temple thanked Lee for her work with a recognition award in 2010.