Sister Promise Atelon preaches at Family Service

Meet the Ministry: The Rev. Sister Promise Atelon

Our community at Trinity includes our vibrant parish of more than 1,600 members — and more than 200 employees working to support our worship services, programming, and ministry around New York City and the world.

In this series, we’re introducing you to some of the faces you may see on Sundays and at services and programs throughout the week, whether they’re at the pulpit or the altar or behind the scenes. You’ll get to know what their day to day looks like, what brought them to Trinity, and how to get in touch — and get involved — with the work they’re doing inside and outside of the church.

Three sisters of the Society of St. Margaret live and work in the parish of Trinity Church Wall Street: Sister Gloria Shirley, Sister Ann Whittaker, and Sister Promise Atelon.

Sister Promise (she/her) also serves as priest and celebrant in services throughout the week — including Contemplative Eucharist on Wednesdays. This complements her work with Trinity’s Pastoral Care team to support the spiritual needs of the Trinity community. Below, Sister Promise shares more about her work.

Hi, Sister Promise! Tell us a little about your role.

My full name is Marie Promise Atelon. I am well-known by the Trinity family as Sister Promise.

I am a sister of Saint Margaret and also a priest, working in the Pastoral Care department. Within this department, I have the privilege to be with people in their moments of joy, celebration, and sadness. I listen, provide pre-marital counseling, celebrate weddings and funerals, and visit the sick and the shut-in either at home or in the hospital or nursing home. I receive calls and have spiritual as well as everyday conversations with people. I provide a hospitality of presence for people to tell their story and share their joy and sadness.

Sister Promise (L) with Keisha Joseph (R), Administrative Manager for the Vicar's Office
Sister Promise (L) with Keisha Joseph (R), Administrative Manager for the Vicar's Office, at the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Sister Promise's membership in the Society of St. Margaret

What's one thing congregational members should know about your work? 

One thing the congregation might not know about me is that besides being a priest, I also have a certificate in spiritual direction. I offer spiritual direction to people who need someone to share the movement of the Spirit in their life, or what God is calling them to do. Within this ministry, most of the time the response is in sharing the story. When we tell a story out loud and feel heard, then it might make more sense to us.

My day-to-day is full of surprises. I can have a day plan, and suddenly I’ll receive a call or an e-mail to asking me visit or talk to someone. I usually drop my other plans and go to do the pastoral visit.

Tell us about your path to Trinity.

I usually tell people being a sister is like being in the military, because you do not choose where you want to go. I was in Boston and already registered to study holistic psychology, and two weeks before school began, the Sister Superior sent me here to work at Trinity. I have been working here since September 1, 2008. So far, I enjoy the people and the ministry here, which have strengthened my faith, challenged it, and also helped me grow.

Sister Promise performs the Imposition of Ashes, Ash Wednesday 2023
Sister Promise performs the Imposition of Ashes, Ash Wednesday 2023

You are one of the organizers and celebrants of Contemplative Eucharist every Wednesday evening. Can you tell us more about this special service?

Contemplative Eucharist was started in September of 2022, from a desire to offer an opportunity for people to go deeper and to connect with themselves, God, and one another. It is hard in a busy city with noise everywhere, where we are constantly on our screens, to take that time for self-connection. But I believe if we take that time, we can feel connected not only with God but with one another as well. I understand God is always present in us, but when we are so busy it can be hard to feel God’s presence. In this service we offer periods of silence and music for people to just be in the presence of God.

After I was ordained, I decided to offer this opportunity for people to come and rest for 30 minutes in God’s presence, as well as provide a light supper to create community. All are welcome, whatever is happening in their life or at work, to come and have this repose. My hope is that those who come to the service believe that they are loved and cared for, and that they can leave whatever burdens them at the altar and go home feeling lighter.

Contemplative Eucharist is followed by a light supper and is open to all. You can find the service by coming to the main door at Trinity Church on Wednesdays at 5:30pm.

How can members of the congregation get in touch with you?

You can find me weekly on Wednesdays at Contemplative Eucharist, or by email at

What’s your favorite quote, lyric, verse, poem, etc.? Share some words to live by.

I go through my day with this quote: “A stream cannot rise higher than its source” — Anna Julia Cooper.

It reminds me that what I do is not my doing, because I am only a stream and God is the source of what I do and what I become. I must always remember to give God praise and glory. As Mary redirected the praise she received to God in the Magnificat, I must remember to redirect all the glory and praise to God.

Sister Promise at the Blessing of the Animals, October 2022
Sister Promise at the Blessing of the Animals, October 2022