A Message from Mother Jenny 05.03.2024

Before we bless and send forth our seminarians on Sunday, I want to use this opportunity to thank them, their Supervisors and their Lay Committees for their time, energy and commitment to Grace’s long-standing partnership with Virginia Seminary. As one who benefitted from being formed into priestly ministry by Grace Church, I have found it uplifting to see this ministry thriving during this time of transition. Gratitude overflows! Please read on…


Contextual Ministry cannot happen successfully without the nurture and care of a trained Supervisor. Hours go into training, meetings with seminarians and writing reports. A huge thank-you, therefore, goes to Chrissie Crosby who served as Durango’s supervisor last year and Noah’s this year. Serving as Ignacio’s supervisor this year, Mary Hix, has been a faithful companion with him.


The Lay Committee Chair and members play a significant role in supporting and challenging a seminarian to stretch and grow. Thank you, Eric Waskowicz, for chairing Ignacio’s committee and to Laura Laemmie-Weidenfeld for chairing the committee for Noah. Last year, Teresa Preston, chaired Durango’s committee, and, our thanks goes to her.


These Supervisors and Lay Committee Chairs graciously provided insightful thoughts about their seminarian. I share some of these as a tribute to the many ways our three seminarians have blessed Grace Church.


Noah has been a gift…
We heard their liturgical style in clear and precise tones. We saw their presence both in the pulpit, with Little Church, and on the altar. Their homiletical presence is one of authority and invitation (which fits their personality). Their calm presence and insightful questions led many to an assumption of a gentle spirit and a kind pastoral manner. And, yet, Noah also has a core of steel which holds their faith, theology, and sense of justice and mercy. Serving at Grace has helped to clarify just how powerful are each of those inner strengths.

Additionally, “Noah is very used to theological reflection, maybe because they grew up as the eldest child of missionaries in Albania! In any conversation, Noah will pause, reflect, and wonder about how almost everything fits into the world around us, and what is the deeper meaning of everything. Noah is intellectually curious about so many things that help to broaden their own personal knowledge and connect to others in new and exciting ways within and beyond their ministry!”

“I loved watching the parish learn more about Noah, their history, their story, their hopes and dreams. I am so grateful I got to work with this wonderful human during such a time of formation.”


“It’s hard to summarize our experience with Father Ignacio in just a few sentences without talking about the details of his life over the past few years, and, especially, this year, with the death of his Father and changes in his personal relationships.”

As a group, the Lay Committee expected a 25-year-old searching for a way in the church. Instead, Ignacio is the same age as several members of the committee; he is already a deacon and, for several years now, he has been firmly committed to being a priest. His life very much has turned upside down over the last couple years: as an immigrant to a new country, the death of his father, the illness of his mother, the ending of a long-term relationship, the beginning of a new one. Through it all, it seems his faith only has grown stronger. And his personal qualities, especially his interest in other people, his sense of humor and his desire to serve ever grow stronger.


Everyone who heard this deacon sing from the pulpit: “You’re just too good to be true” will remember it for a long time! His stated goal has been to help others have a spiritual experience. He is learning to listen, love, pray, and speak little. He constantly ponders how to integrate what he has learned at Grace into future ministry. And, perhaps his greatest contribution has been to see Grace and La Gracia as one community, never separated. That has been his vision and he has worked to make it a reality.


Father Ignacio’s plans for the next months are: travel to Costa Rica to visit his mom and the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in San José. After that, two weeks of disconnection in Maine awaits and two months serving as intern at Church of the Intercession, Washington Heights, NYC (a bilingual congregation) and in his sending parish, where he will be preaching in the service in Spanish.


Father Durango has ‘still waters that run deep’ and processes things in ways that reinforce his studies and further his own growth. All of which shows increasing maturity of understanding of both who he is as a special creation in God, and how his call to ordination uses all of his gifts. His willingness to explore how he feels about social interactions gives him a strong start!


In every way our parish has been truly “Graced” by his work within our body. Those who’ve heard Durango preach or attended any of his classes know that he’s a wonderful speaker and teacher. Those of us who had the privilege of being on his lay committee were able to see the thoughtfulness he puts into his teaching as he considers both the needs of the parish and the specific groups within it. He approaches others with curiosity and interest, which coupled with a desire only to serve, will make him a wonderful priest for any parish where he serves. Durango’s summer plans are traveling for ordinations and finding a job after graduation, so please keep him in your prayers.


To be sure, endings are never easy, especially when the relationships have been positive, productive, and filled with grace. As Noah, Father Ignacio, and Father Durango move forward in formation and ministry, we ask God’s blessings on them. As for Grace Church, we will be pausing temporarily our role in Contextual Ministry for a bit until rector leadership is in place for the fall. Virginia Seminary is aware of this decision and, rest assured, Grace Church remains and will always be a valued site for contextual ministry!

I hope to see you on Sunday as we bless and send forth Noah, Father Ignacio and Father Durango.


Mother Jenny+