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  November 2017  
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Minister's Monthly Column

Reverend Caitlin Takes a Well-Earning Sabbatical...

It was April 2012.   I had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and upon my return from medical leave and three weeks before I was to begin chemotherapy All Souls’ Director of Religious Education resigned.  In and of itself it was okay.  Staff leave.  The church continues on.  But the timing was a bit hair raising. 

I flew into high gear.  First stop:  the Executive Committee, who serves as the Personnel Committee.  I asked for their blessing that we forego what is typically an elegant process in hiring Directors of Religious Education – even for an interim / acting position, as this one would be.  I didn’t want to be sitting in an infusion chair and worrying about this vacancy.   Thankfully, they granted their blessing.

I had an idea, a slight glimmer of hope.  I remembered speaking with Caitlin O’Brien just months earlier.  She’d called me at the suggestion of other colleagues as she was contemplating moving from community ministry to parish ministry.   Although we’d never spoken before, our conversation was easy and I was impressed by her thoughtfulness.  

So, I called her.  Knowing that religious education was not necessarily her bailiwick, I offered that this yearlong opportunity would give her a glimpse into parish ministry.  And as far as All Souls, all we needed was one year to get us through the transition to a permanent hire. Would she consider coming in and talking with me?  

She agreed.  We talked.  Actually, we talked for over two hours.  Caitlin is nothing if not thorough and there was much to consider not only about the position itself but also concerning her family life.  Caitlin’s daughter was at the time 6-months old and her son was three.   Jumping into a job such as this one wasn’t exactly part of the plan.  She thought about it, she went the next step and met the Executive Committee and then, thank goodness, she accepted the position. 

Five and a half years later, Reverend Caitlin has brought our Religious Education ministry to remarkable heights.  Her commitment to excellence, efficiency and theological understanding has inspired a program of spiritual and religious depth to an enrollment of 100 children and youth.   Our children and youth embrace their experiences in religious education through which they have formed bonds that are essential in growing a community.  As well, the pastoral support Caitlin offers to families with children has been an invaluable asset to the manner in which we care for each other at All Souls. 

I know that you join me in eternal gratitude.

And to show our gratitude, Caitlin will be taking a well-earned sabbatical beginning in mid-December through mid-April.   We will send her off with love and in All Souls-style on Sunday, December 10 at the conclusion of the “Paper Bag Pageant”.

So, what will happen in Reverend Caitlin’s absence, you ask? The congregation has experience in sabbaticals and has functioned well when I have been on sabbatical.   Caitlin’s sabbatical will be no different.  Religious Education Administrator, Arlene Stoltz will work five additional hours per week.  Maridalia  Hernandez, our Child Care Provider, will take up Sunday morning responsibilities supporting teachers and making sure all is running smoothly.  I will take on pastoral care to families with children. 

And the congregation as a whole will need to step up in a couple of ways.  For example, there is need for additional volunteers in the nursery with Maridalia now working in the classrooms.  Please consider how you may help and if called upon, I hope your instinct will be to say, “yes”. 

It is my hope that Reverend Caitlin will return to the news that the congregation has raised the money we need to staff for growth.  As you know, this year will be the last in which religious education is her responsibility.  The Director of Faith Formation Search Committee will have met for the first time as you are reading this newsletter.  The plan is that Reverend Caitlin’s portfolio will shift to expand her pastoral care responsibilities as well as accommodate additional preaching. 

So please join me in wishing Reverend Caitlin the best as she embarks on her Sabbatical.  In that time, she will inevitably learn more about herself and we will learn more about who we are in terms of our commitments to religious education, our children and youth, and indeed, as a congregation.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to speak with me or Reverend Caitlin or any Board Member.

With gratitude for the journey we share,  

Reverend Carolyn