The Rev Bids Trinity and Orlando Farewell

Reverend Sonia Sullivan-Clifton is leaving Trinity after 16 years of service.

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Reverend Sonia Sullivan-Clifton is leaving Trinity after 16 years of service.

Sidney Seybold, Lifestyles Department Editor

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When the Reverend Sonia Sullivan-Clifton, or Rev as the students call her, stepped onto the Trinity campus for the first time 16 years ago, “myspace” had just come out and the iPhone had not even been invented yet. Now, 16 years later, the beloved Reverend is leaving Trinity and even Orlando to be a chaplain at The Canterbury School of Florida in St. Petersburg.

  When Sullivan-Clifton first came to Trinity, she taught one ethics class each day. However, soon after she arrived, Trinity was experiencing some hardships, so she had to take on a greater role in the hurting community. She was then more involved and eventually became one of the two school chaplains.

  “A job was created for me because I fit. Trinity didn’t realize it had needs that I could fill until they had me to fill them,” Sullivan-Clifton said.

  Over the years, Sullivan-Clifton has become a vital part of the Trinity family. She has housed students, organized important chapels, and built strong relationships with those around her. She says that her favorite part about Trinity that she is going to miss the most are the people and the relationships she has built.

  “I’m [going to] miss the friendships,” Sullivan-Clifton said. “I’m gonna miss the intimate moments when we cry together. When somebody invites me into the tragedy of their life, and when somebody invites me to celebrate the successes and the joys.”

  Aside from being a chaplain, Sullivan-Clifton was the Girl’s Varsity Basketball Coach and takes with her a state runner-up title. She was also involved in organizing the seventh grade field trip to Pathfinder and creating Girl’s Night In, the club to help rising freshman girls get acclimated into highschool. One of her most exciting memories at Trinity was during the production of Peter Pan, when she controlled the flight apparatus for Peter Pan.

  “I got to fly Peter Pan a number of years ago,” Sullivan-Clifton said. “Theater did Peter Pan, and they brought in this flying apparatus, and I got to learn how [to use it]. That was super fun.”

  Sullivan-Clifton is not only leaving a lasting legacy at Trinity but also her church. From 2003 to 2011, she worked at Trinity full-time, however from 2011 to 2019, she has been the rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Orlando, while still working at Trinity part-time. Sullivan-Clifton was offered a full-time job again as Head Chaplain after Chaplain Vinal left, however she feels that leaving her church to come back to Trinity would be unfair to them after all they have done for her.

  “When Chaplain Vinal left, the last two years I was basically back here almost full time and still at Church full time. I did it because of my commitment to Trinity, and my love of this place, and my love of y’all. And so to come back here full-time after St. Matthews was gracious to share me in the way they have, just didn’t feel right. And sometimes, you’ve just gotta follow your heart.”

  Sullivan-Clifton has witnessed many changes and events at Trinity that impact the school today. From the first Senior Dog Day to an attempt at a Guinness World Record title to the deaths of beloved faculty members, she has been here for it all. She hopes that the students will continue to grow spiritually and that the Trinity family will continue to be the core of the school. Sullivan-Clifton has had a lasting impact on the Trinity family and will be dearly missed.

  “My philosophy is you should always leave a place better than you found it, so you should leave your job better than you found it, you should leave your family better than you found it, you should leave your friends better than you found them,” Sullivan-Clifton said. “Everything you encounter, you should leave better than you found it, which for me means a measure of grace and an abundance of love.”

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