Sarah Monroe--Our Seminarian and Postulant at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA
A record of Sarah's day as a seminarian and postulant for Priest--2009-2014)
Sarah first came to St. Mark’s in July 2009, and quickly became a strong member, confirmed in September 2009 during Bishop Greg Rickel’s visit to St. Mark’s. As her home church, we were honored to have the opportunity to support the development of a new, young priest who will go out into the world to do God’s work. In January 2011, Sarah was accepted as a postulant in the Episcopal Church in our Diocese. In September 2012, Sarah was accepted as a candidate. In October 2012, Sarah was ordained a transitional deacon in the church. Sarah was on track to be ordained a priest in June 2013, but in discussions with Bishop Rickel decided to wait a year and do some more discernment about her ministry focus. Sarah completed her seminary work and graduated in May 2013. She was ordained a priest in April 2014, and is now working out of St. Andrew's, Aberdeen, and starting also in Westport, in a street ministry she started called Chaplains on the Harbor. More on Sarah's story at St. Mark's as a seminarian is found below and here.
In the Fall of 2009, during Sarah's senior year as a student at Evergreen State College, she did a research project on immigration in Grays Harbor County in Washington state. Some of the results of that study are provided here: http://olympicpeninsulajustice.blogspot.com/
In 99 Brattle - Progressive theology and critical thinking to transform the world, March 4, 2011: "Remember the Slave Ships? War Against the Poor"-- http://99brattle.blogspot.com/2011/03/remember-slave-ships-war-against-poor.html
In the Episcopal Voice, Winter 2011, pages 18 & 19: "Episcopalians stand for immigrant rights"-- http://www.ecww.org/files/6/VOICE_2011_winter_final_web2_revised.pdf
Letters and Ongoing Information From Sarah
Dear St Mark's,
I wanted to write you all about my recent conversation with the bishop. He and I together have decided to extend my time as a deacon before going on to priesthood.
This process has gone quite quickly and I have found it difficult to keep my head above water. It seemed a little foolhardy to rush into a curacy position where, as I have found out more, I would be serving in 3-4 locations and starting two new ministries on my own. I have been increasingly concerned about burnout. Additionally, my heart and passion are still ministering on the street and with people living on the edge. I have been feeling pulled more and more away from this and miss that work deeply. It is where I find my joy in ministry.
I have been praying for awhile for guidance and discernment. I was finally able to meet and talk with Greg on Wednesday about my concerns and we mutually decided that it would be best to wait a year. Greg wishes me to discern more around the diaconate. I still very much feel I am called to priesthood, but he wants me to do more discernment, particularly because I am so sure of my call to work with people who are on the edge.
My next steps will be to finish seminary. I will be in Boston for nearly a month in May/June, finishing a final class and graduating. I will then find a job (any jobs that you know of, let me know!) and, depending on where I end up working, will placed as a deacon. I plan to get settled and ease into doing ministry on the street.
I have been so very grateful for all of your support through this process. I so hope that I am not letting you all down by this decision. Your prayers, thoughts, support, and love have meant more than you will ever know. I am hoping to visit soon and talk more with all of you.
Blessings to all and much love,
Dear St Mark's,
It has been awhile since I sent out an update, so I thought I would do so. I am thinking of you this week and will especially miss St Mark’s Pancake Day!
I have been incredibly busy finishing up this last year of seminary and internship at St Paul’s Seattle. I flew back to Boston in January, where I took my General Ordination Exams (the results are still out on this!). Currently, I am working on a thesis project, for which I received an Episcopal Evangelism Society grant. I am designing liturgical and bible study resources to use on the street in ministry with folks who are homeless. I am enjoying the work very much, but also very much looking forward to graduation in May.
After a bit of discernment, I took the position of curate with the Rev. Pete Strimer at St Andrew’s Seattle. I will start in July, after ordination. Hold the date, June 13th, for ordination to the priesthood! As a curate, I will work in two places—at George (a church that closed two years ago) developing a community center and a new worshiping congregation and at St Luke’s Ballard doing street ministry. I am blessed and excited to take this position!
I know some of you are aware that my family has been in crisis. My sister Rachel is recovering well from surgery, but is also struggling with a painful divorce. My dad also has been ill and had prostate surgery a few weeks ago. I have spent as much time as possible with them in recent months, going back and forth between my internship in Seattle and home in Montesano. I thank you for your prayers.
I miss you all and pray for you and think of you often! I hope to have a few Sundays to visit in May.
Much love and many blessings,
Our seminarian, Sarah Monroe, is getting ready for her Candidacy Day in September, another step in
getting to ordination as a priest next year. Our Bishop’s Committee and Rev. Lorraine have written
letters of support for her. Also, we agreed again to pay for her annual health insurance costs (about
$2200), as well as to help pay for expenses for her psych evaluation (1/3 of the total, about $250,
required by the Diocese for anyone seeking ordination). Assuming Sarah becomes a candidate, she will
likely be ordained a transitional deacon in October, and then ordained a priest following completion of
her seminary work online with EDS next Spring. More information about her schedule and how we can
support her and participate in her ordination activities will be provided as she completes these steps
From Sarah on August 29th,
I first wanted to thank you all so much for your support with my health insurance and psych eval. It
means a lot!
Also, I wanted to let you know how things are going for me. I have most of my candidacy papers in and
will be interviewing on Sept. 22 with COM and Standing Committee. I will also be serving as an intern
at St. Paul's Seattle through this year. It is a large parish--and Anglo-Catholic--and Melissa Skelton will
be a great mentor. I'm looking forward to it. Even more exciting for me is that the parish runs the
"Fatted Calf Cafe" serving folks who are homeless in the area. I spent time with them yesterday and
had an amazing time. I'm hoping to do as much street work as I can, while still learning all the
"traditional" stuff too.
I'm officially moving into my Auburn apartment on the 3rd. I will be preaching next door at the
Montesano Church of God on Sunday, so I will come over to say hello to everyone.
Thanks again for all your support and prayers.
Early May, 2012
Just wanted to let you know that I will be back on what Bostonians call the "left coast" just in time to be at St Mark's for Pentecost Sunday. Look forward to seeing you all then!!!
I am halfway through finals and everything seems to be falling into place. Wednesday is the last day of classes and I am looking forward to having some free time. I am staying through graduation, since many of my friends here at EDS are graduating this year. Then off for a long drive across the country! I am looking forward to that--we'll take I-90 most of the way and that is a beautiful drive.
I hope you are all doing well.
I had such a wonderful time visiting you all last month! Thank you all again for all of your support and prayers.
I wanted to update you on my upcoming plans. I am finishing my second year of seminary soon and am looking forward to classes being over for the year. I am also finishing up my internship with Ecclesia. It is going to be so hard to leave this community-- I love everyone there so much! But it is time to say goodbye and I know that they will continue to thrive. I will always hold all the amazing people I have met and worked with there close to my heart.
I will be driving back to the Pacific Northwest with a friend who is moving to Portland. We leave on May 18th, right after graduation ceremonies. I have been in conversation with Bishop Greg and with other mentors and have decided to complete my final year of seminary closer to home. There is an outdoor church starting in Seattle and I have been invited to be a part of it. After a great deal of thought and prayers, I have decided to move back. I am so excited to be going back to the trees and mountains of the northwest and also excited to be a part of this new work. I am also happy to be closer to my new niece and nephew. I still am working out details about where I will live, etc.
I will actually finish at EDS as a distance student, so I will retain all my financial aid. I am really looking forward to being back. I have had an amazing experience in Boston, but it seems time to come back to the other side of the states again. I am looking forward to the opportunities there. Bishop Greg has been wonderfully supportive.
I look forward to seeing you all in just a few months! The weather in Boston has been odd--unseasonably warm and sunny (it got up to the 80s last week--yikes!). I hear that it is more normal there--plenty of rain! Many blessings to all of you-- you are ever in my thoughts and prayers.
Looking forward to Holy Week,
I just wanted to wish you all a wonderful Christmas. I miss you all this time of year and wish I could be back at my home church! I hope all is well for each of you; you are all often in my thoughts and prayers.
My school semester just finished and I am glad to have finals behind me (though I do have a paper to finish yet!). I am continuing to work at my internship through the holidays, which keeps me busy. I love the people I work with! I am looking forward to worshiping with them on Christmas morning on the Boston Common. I am told it is a very special service. This is a sad time of year for many people in our community and I look forward to spending time with them finding hope in a manger. In the afternoon, I will be having dinner with a friend and her family. It should be lovely!
Last week, I took a three day weekend and spent time at a monastic house in Northern Massachusetts. It was wonderful to be back in the woods with a little cabin and woodburning stove. It was clear most of the time (even though it was cold!), so I got to see the stars and go on lots of hikes.
I will be coming back to Washington in February, when my sister gets married. I will stay for a little over a week (Feb. 9-17) and hopefully will be able to make it to St. Mark's on the 12th and see everyone.
Love and blessings to each of you in the holy season!
Waiting for the light,
I was hoping to be able to come out for Christmas, but my plans have changed. Rachel is getting married in February, so I am going to wait to come out then. Hopefully, I will be able to stay for two weeks. I am trying to work out class schedules to allow me to do that. I'll also do my psych evaluation then as well, along with any other diocesan requirements that come up. It’s been a busy semester, but I am pushing through. Loving field education with the outdoor church!!! I'm preaching in a few weeks, finally!
Hope you are all well!
I have been so busy this past month and a half that I have not taken the time to update you all about how things are going for me this second year of seminary. I think about you all often and am so grateful for all your support. I am juggling many different things this year-- I am taking classes, doing field ed, working with a professor on campus, and volunteering. I am also trying to take time for selfcare too!!! :-)
I realized this year that I needed to focus on required classes, so I am taking a class on Episcopal
History and Polity, a class on Voice and Leadership, and a class on Ecumenism. The voice class has
been really helpful for me--as you all know I could use some work developing my speaking/voice skills!
It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work. For the fun of it, I also signed up for an online class at a4
Lutheran seminary on rural ministry. It is very little work, but nice to have a place to talk about what interests me with other people going into rural ministry.
I am doing my field ed at Ecclesia Ministries, an 'outdoor church' that meets near the Boston Commons and whose membership is largely homeless or low income. It is a very challenging field to do ministry,but also so rewarding. I chose it for many reasons; one, because I wanted to see ministry done differently. I have found amazing mentors in the people I work with there! I work Sundays with the church service and bible study and Wednesdays with a program called 'common art' that provides space for people to come together to do art and share a meal. As I settle into this work, I have been so blessed to share in people's stories. The end of the month, a group from the congregation will be going on a pilgrimage, walking from downtown Boston to Emory House, a monastic house in northern MA. I will be going with the group on part of this walk. I have been deeply touched by the depth of spirituality in this community, where many people live such tragedy and pain. I have been able to use my Spanish skills too.
I am working with one of my professors, Susie Snyder, to develop resources on campus around
immigration and immigrant rights. We just held our first resource day on Oct. 10th, which is one reason I have been too busy to do anything else! We had around 65 people show up and had a panel of speakers and workshops. It was a lot of work, but it was wonderful to see it come together. I am taking a break from this for a bit so I can catch up on the rest of my life.
I am also limiting my volunteer work more than I originally wanted to. I have been working with the
Boston New Sanctuary Movement supporting the local immigrant community and have stepped back
from some of the work for this year. I will continue to work with them on a limited basis, but am finding that I need to take this space in seminary to reflect, write, and continue discernment. This is a good thing! I am also staying on the periphery of the Occupy movements (I have visited both Boston and NYC's Wall Street) and am working on some theological reflections around economic issues.
And, yes, I am finding space to have fun! I went with a group of seminary friends to New York City
over the last weekend and have got out of the city a few times (I went kayaking for the first time!). I also am cultivating space to just take walks, read novels, and visit with new friends. Tomorrow I am looking forward to going to a talk by Wendell Berry.
I will be coming back to my wonderful peninsula for Christmas. I will be in the area from Dec. 15-26. I will hope to see you all then!!! While there, I will complete the required psychological exam. I am
looking forward to applying for candidacy this spring.
I hope you are all doing well. You are in my thoughts and prayers!!
Everyone at St Mark’s,
It was so wonderful to spend the summer back in the area and be able to attend St Marks! I’ve loved being with you all in church again. My summer CPE internship at the hospital also kept me more than busy. It was an intense experience, but also a blessing to be able to minister with people in crisis at Providence St Peter. I learned a lot, about myself and my ministry gifts and about pastoral care. Thanks to everyone for your support through it!
I am returning to Boston the week of August 28th, driving across country with my sister. Back at seminary, I’ll be busy with classes and another internship with a ministry called Ecclesia. This ministry works with people who are homeless in downtown Boston and holds church services outside the Episcopal Cathedral on the Boston Commons. I will be helping with services and spending time on the Boston streets! I’ll also be working with one of my professors to plan a conference on faith and immigration. It will be a full year and I look forward to it!
I will miss you all. St Marks has been a wonderful church home for me and this summer I was reminded just how much I feel at home with you all. I pray you all have a wonderful year and that you continue to show the love of Christ in Montesano!
--Sarah now has decided to be in the Montesano area for the entire summer, doing her CPE work in Olympia. She will arrive in early May and will be at St. Mark's, hopefully preaching in our regular schedule.
--Sarah plans to be in the Montesano area for most of May, during her school break. Maybe she will preach one Sunday. More details to follow!
--It is crazy cold here in Boston. I came back from Mexico with a really bad cold and the weather here only made it worse (going from 70 degrees to 0 was a bit of a shock). But I am on the mend.
I am excited to be a postulant and just got out my first ember letter. Classes start this week, though some are cancelled due to snow (we got almost a foot last night!!) and they all look really good. I'm especially looking forward to liturgical practicum, where I get to learn to celebrate and plan services. Love that stuff!!! Oh, and if all goes as planned, Blaire estimates I will be applying for candidancy next year in the fall. The diocese wants to start ordaining to the priesthood right out of seminary more or less.
I'm also looking forward to CPE this summer-- it seems Lacey cancelled their program, so I will be in Maine. I do hope to make it back to WA during break, though, to see everyone. I miss you all!!!
--I just wanted to share the news. Blaire (Notrica, from the Diocesan staff) emailed me a copy of the postulant letter yesterday, since I am in Mexico, and I am indeed a postulant!!! God is good and I am a bit scared. ;-) But excited to see how God is leading.
My trip here to the borderlands has been a powerful experience so far and I will share more when I return. So many stories. I was in Tucson around the time of the shooting as well-- just so tragic and there is a lot of mourning here. Hope you all are well and safe.
--I hope you all had a blessed Advent and Christmas season. It was wonderful to see you all briefly! While I love my new home in Boston, it is impossible to replace St Mark's!
In this Epiphany season, when we remember our mission to give Christ's light to the world and anticipate the healing of the Christian community, I feel very blessed to be in seminary preparing for what God has called me to do. I will hear from BACOM in early January regarding their decision for postulancy. In the meantime, I will be studying on the Arizona-Mexico border in Tucson and Nogales for the first three weeks in January. I was excited to receive a grant to work with churches in that area on immigration issues (and maybe work a bit on my Spanish!). It will be interesting to spend my time on the border during Epiphany, which is the time we pray for barriers between people to be torn down.
I will return in time for Spring semester to begin and my classes once again look amazing. I will continue my study of Spanish for pastoral ministry, as well as jump into Bible and theology courses. I have learned so much here that I hope will be useful for my future ministry. I appreciate the strong emphasis on the priesthood of all believers at this seminary and it fits nicely with all I learned and observed at St. Mark's.
Thank you again for all your prayers and support. I so appreciate all the notes and emails I have recieved. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. This Epiphany, I am so grateful for the light of Christ that you all display to the world.
--Sarah's BACOM/Diocesan ordination interview was at Camp Huston on December 9-10, and she thinks it was a supportive experience. They had some good discussions, the interview itself seemed to go really well, and the bishop was positive. She got to preach a short sermon at the Eucharist and it was well received. She thanks all for the support and prayers.
--I was disappointed that I had a class all day Sunday so didn't get to celebrate All Saint's or Halloween, but I'm glad to hear that you had a good community turnout Halloween night. I just love that St Mark's does that. Here, the little neighbor girl from next door (the daughter of a student here) showed up in her little clown costume. She was sooo cute!! I'm enjoying my new living space-- it is an intentional community with 7 people and we have a good time together.
This week, I am a delegate from EDS to the ERD's student network meeting, so I will be at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina for a few days finding out more about ERD and how the seminary can be involved. It should be a great opportunity. While I am there, I will also get to hear Naim Ateek (a Palestinian theologian who is an Episcopal priest) speak about the holy land. I'm also applying for a grant to spend three weeks on the border in January, so my schedule is, as always, very busy. But I love everything I'm doing so much!!
--Sarah has been accepted to attend the BACOM Diocesan retreat for those who aspire to ordination, on December 9-10, 2010 here in the Diocese. If approved by this board of review, she can start into the postulancy process toward ordination. She will come back for about a week to attend this, and plans to be with us for Sunday worship on December 5th. She will likely not be able to be here over Christmas break due to her class schedule. She is hoping to do her CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) work at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia next summer and be home in Montesano for the summer.
--Dear People of St Mark's,
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. My first 6 weeks in seminary have been very full and busy. I'm taking a very full load of classes, so I'll probably remember to cut back a bit next semester. At the same time, I am enjoying every one of them. The professors here at EDS are amazing and I am learning so much. The seminary community has also been very welcoming. We have twice daily worship during the week and I've had the opportunity to serve many times leading morning or evening prayer. I am also serving on chapel staff. Every day, I am amazed that I am actually here and that God has brought me this far in my journey. I've made many friends and we are learning together how to build community.
Cambridge is a beautiful old city, full of historical sites and lovely old churches. Just going to the store can be a history lesson. The weather is changing and it is getting colder. The leaves are changing and the colors are so vibrant. I have found my favorite spot behind the seminary in the Longfellow gardens, underneath the old trees. It reminds me a bit of home, though I do really miss the evergreens and mountains.
I miss you all very much and St Mark's is often in my thoughts and prayers. My love to each of you!!
Peace and Love in Jesus,
--Dear People of St. Mark’s,
As I get ready to leave for seminary in Cambridge, MA, I wanted to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for all your love, support, and encouragement. My last year at St. Mark’s has been one of the best in my life and you have all helped make it that way. I have been so enriched by the community that I have found here and for the love you have for each other.
I also want to thank you for the moral and financial support that has allowed me to go to seminary. I am deeply grateful. I look forward to this next adventure with God, as I pursue ordination and attend seminary at the Episcopal Divinity School. I am excited to get settled in Cambridge and start classes and will keep in touch with you all as I progress.
Each of you has touched my life in so many ways and I will miss you and keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Continue to be the light of Christ shining in Montesano!!
The peace of our Lord be always with you,