Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Stories We Tell


G.Ester Vodola

By David Wright
Town Historian

G. Esther Vodola

G. (Geremina) Esther Vodola was born in Hartford in 1911. Her mother was born in Germany and came to America in 1900. Her father was born in Italy and came to America in 1902. The family lived in Hartford into the 1920s when they moved to 1129 Essex Place in Stratford. 

Esther was the fifth of 14 children. Her father died in 1932, leaving her widowed mother to carry on with her many children, the youngest being five years old at the time of her father’s passing.

Esther became the first ordained female minister of the First Congregational Church of Stratford.

Esther was ordained by the New York Conference of Congregational Christian Churches. There she pastored churches in Kiantone, Stamfordvile and Troy, and later she served as vice moderator of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ. Throughout her life, she served churches in New Hampshire, Franconia, Wakefield, Alstead and Sulivan.  Esther served as moderator of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ in 1979 and 1980. She was named Pastor Emerita of the Wakefield United Church of Christ in 2002. 

Esther lived to be 95 years old and passed away at Griffin Hospital in Derby in May of 2007.

The Bridgeport Post

June 3, 1948

Rev. Esther Vodola – Home Church Guest

The Rev. G. Esther Vodola, daughter of Mia. Anna Vodola, Essex Place, Stratford, will be guest preacher in the First Congregational Church of Stratford, Sunday at the 11 o’clock worship service, the Rev. F. Stanley Selleck, pastor, announces.

The Rev. Miss Vodola, a native of Stratford, is the first woman to be ordained from the First Church, which is now in its 309th year.

She was graduated from Stratford High School, and was active in church work as a Sunday school superintendent and church clerk at the Jube Memorial Congregational Church, Newark, N, J., while she was employed as secretary to Commander Lee of the Moore and McCormick Steamship Lines in New York. She resigned from that position and came to her home and took up secretarial work in this vicinity.

She became an active teacher in the Sunday school of her home church, and to help prepare herself for teaching, she attended a Teachers’ conference at Winnipesaukee, N. H.  There she decided to go into the Christian ministry. She entered Berea college where she made a fine record, graduating in 1945 with a B A. degree. While an undergraduate she spent her summers doing vacation school work in Illinois. She entered Union Theological seminary in September, 1945. 

…The subject of the Rev. Miss Vodola’s sermon on Sunday morning will be “Living Waters”. The Rev. Mr. Selleck will conduct the worship. The special music for the morning will be an anthem, “Thy Will be Done” by Hugo Ward, and a soprano solo of “0 Give Thanks and Sing” by Horns.

The Rev. Mr. Selleck says of the Rev. Miss Vodola, “I have never known a more inspired and spiritually minded person to go into the work of teaching and preaching the Gospel than Esther Vodola. Her very countenance radiates her faith.”


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