Explorer’s Day

Do you feel you are being called to a deeper ministry?  Do you feel that you might be called to ordained ministry?

If so, please consider attending our Explorer’s Day on September 9th at St. Mark’s, Erie.  The program will be offered at no cost and will run from 10:00 AM to 3:15 PM (lunch will be provided).

Explorer’s Day is a program that we run jointly with the Diocese of Western New York. It serves as a day of exploration into ministry and as the entry point to the ordination process.  We hope that, through this program, participants will be able to better discern their call to ministry and make informed decisions about their next steps.

During this day-long program, we will take a look at the different callings and roles of three of the orders in the church: lay, deacon, and priest.  We will do this through theological reflections using the Book of Common Prayer, studying scriptures that show different ways we may be called to ministry, and hearing from representatives of each of the three orders.  We will also explain the details of our respective ordination processes.

We held our first Explorer’s Day in January of this year and had good attendance from both dioceses.  Those that attended found the program very informative and useful in their journeys.  Some chose to enter the ordination process, some discerned that the ordination process wasn’t for them, and some decided that they wanted to continue their prayer and discernment.  Attendance does not mean you are entering the ordination process or that you are locked in to anything.  This program is intended to be what it is titled: a day of exploration for those who feel they may want to go deeper in ministry.

People who believe they may have a call to ordained ministry or a deeper call to lay ministry are encouraged to attend. If you know someone who fits this description, please share this information with them and encourage them to attend.

A couple of notes:  We do require that the priest from the attendee’s congregation accompany him or her, as the clergy will be walking alongside them during this exploration of call.  Also, though you do not have to enter the ordination process after attending this event, attendance at this event is required to enter the ordination process.

To sign up for the event, please contact Valerie Hudson at vhudson@dionwpa.org or 814.456.4203.

Upcoming Services of Ordination

There are some exciting events coming up in the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Please join us at the following services as we welcome new clergy to the Diocese!

Bishop Sean will ordain Dorothy Konyha, David Betz, Mark Elliston, and Nicholas Evancho to the Diaconate on Sunday, May 7, at 5:00 PM at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Erie. The Rt. Rev. William Franklin, Bishop of the Diocese of Western New York, will preach. All are welcome to attend. Please keep all the candidates in your prayers as they prepare for ordination.

Then, on June 25, Bishop Sean will ordain the Rev. Jason Shank to the priesthood at 4:00 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Castle.   Join us if you are able and please keep Jason and the Resurrection church plant in your prayers as they begin their new ministry together.

 

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Congratulations, Father Timothy!

Congratulations to Father Timothy Dyer of the Episcopal Mission of Warren County on his ordination this past Sunday, December 11th!

Photos of the ordination can be seen below, and full video of the service is available here.  God’s blessing on your ministry, Fr. Timothy.

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Who Knew There Were So Many Chipotles?

This is a post from Nicholas Evancho a seminarian from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania who just completed his first year at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Nicholas’ home church is Epiphany, Grove City.  To read about our other seminarians, Click here . 

200px-Virginia_Theological_Seminary_Alexandria,_VAMy first year of seminary has been an eventful and formative experience and more has happened in the last year than I ever expected. I have had the opportunity to connect with people from all over the Communion and the Episcopal Church in ways that have been both exciting and challenging. Being immersed in the Seminary community has shown the breadth of the Episcopal Church and the life and opportunities that are present in her.

During my first semester I had the privilege of singing in the choir at the consecration of the Immanuel Chapel presided over by Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori with Archbishop Justin Welby serving as preacher. It was exciting to meet them and other big names in Anglicanism and to put personalities and faces to the names that receive so much esteem in church circles.

Being a musician on campus and one of the staff choristers for the Seminary Choir has given me the opportunity to participate in the diverse liturgical life of the Seminary community. I have served as everything from soloist at Lessons and Carols to service organist, to the background pianist at a cocktail party for the Alumni Association 50th Reunion and everything in-between. My most rewarding musical experience has been being a part of the Schola Cantorum which performs acapella motets and chorales for services of Solemn Evensong and other special services throughout the year. This is a totally student run ensemble that has managed to grow into a professional quality group that has become a valued part of the worship life of the community.

red-peppers-296655_640It has also been exciting, and at times scary, to get my first car while living in the Washington, DC area. I have been able to venture around DC and to see many of the monuments and museums that are scattered throughout the city. I have also gotten to take advantage of my horrible sense of direction since many of my discoveries in the city are due solely to my ability to get lost following even simple directions. (Who knew there were so many Chipotles?) It has been a joy to have many family and friends come and visit me and I have, as Bishop Sean warned me I would, become a great DC tour guide over the last year. It was a special gift that many of my classmates from Grove City got together for a reunion in the DC area and spent the weekend together playing games and catching up on developments in life.

For the first semester this year I was able to visit different parishes around the Dioceses of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington in order to find a place to serve as parish seminarian for the following two years. These churches ranged in character and history spanning from parishes at which George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended, to the National Cathedral, to those with newer worship styles using praise bands and contemporary liturgical ideas. I eventually settled on doing my Field Education at Christ Church, Georgetown which is an historic parish in the oldest neighborhood in the DC area. I am excited to serve there each Sunday and to begin to experience the life of a congregation unlike any I have ever encountered.

Now that I have finished my first year I have completed studies in New Testament, Greek Translation, Old Testament, History of Spirituality, Liturgical Music, and the Theory and Practice of Ministry. These classes have not only enriched me academically but some even involved community volunteer work that broadened and expanded my understanding of what it means to be a minister to a wide range of people. These classes have prepared me to enter Clinical Pastoral Education this Summer during which I will serve as a chaplain at a local Nursing Home/Rehab center in order to get experience with ministry in crisis situations. This will certainly be a great opportunity to grow in my vocation and begin to practice ministry in real-world situations.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated as I continue on my journey and I could not do any of it without the support of the great and Godly people of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. If you would like to continue to follow and support my journey you can find periodic updates at my website: http://www.walkingtowalsingham.com

Nicholas Evancho

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The Rev. Tim Dyer is Kintsugi

This is the third and final installment in a three part series highlighting the stories of our three seminarians. Click here to read stories about the other two seminarians.

kintsugiKintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer and gold. The broken pieces are soldered back together with gold in the seams. The philosophy is that the pottery’s brokenness is part of its history and does not need to be hidden. Many regard the finished product as even more beautiful than the original. Something broken is remade into something stunning and useful.

The Rev. Tim Dyer considers himself a piece of Kintsugi. He has been broken both emotionally and physically and has been remade. Though he is shy about talking about his strengths, there is gold in his seams. Rightfully so, he attributes that remaking and the gold to God’s handiwork.

The story of Tim’s accident and near death is no secret [Click here to read an account by Vanessa Butler reprinted from “The Forward,” September of 2013]. Tim was literally broken in several places after a deer hit his car in November 2012. He spent 6 months in the hospital and at one point was not expected to live. He has been through a long road to recovery and in some ways is still broken: “I used to be able to bench press 450 pounds.” Being strong and physical was one of the ways Tim defined his identity before the accident. He is still relearning how to do things and is limited. Now, over three years after his accident, he can barely wield a shovel before his partially healed wrist swells up and keeps him from doing physical labor. He has struggled with losing that part of his identity.

The story of Tim’s brokenness that many don’t know is his ‘prodigal son’ experience. As a very young man Tim joined the Marines and was stationed in Spain. While there, he had a challenging relationship with his stateside girlfriend that ended up in a very emotional breakup. In response, Tim stayed drunk for two years and blamed God for his hurt. He couldn’t get leave to come home so it was easier to act like home wasn’t there and he isolated himself from his family. He was later transferred to California and, while there, started using crystal meth. When he realized it was killing him, he quit but at that point was too embarrassed to go home.

Unbeknownst to Tim, his father had been praying that Tim would return home and return to God. God answers prayers in mysterious ways sometimes. Tim got a call in 1999 that his father had a heart attack (which he survived). Tim knew it was time to come home.

Since then, God has soldered Tim’s broken pieces back together. It started with his family accepting him back without question. Tim then found his life partner, Noreen, and together they started going to church. Tim started feeling acceptance there as well and started getting involved by being a lay reader and a lay minister. Tim later figured out that the turning point for him was when he forgave himself and turned back to God: “God had forgiven me a long time before.”

16969_100564616643449_761487_nTim then started discerning a call to the priesthood and was guided in that decision by Deacon Michael Bauschard: “His dedication was an incredible example to me.” Tim officially entered the ordination process in 2007. He took local courses and, after the hiatus due to his accident, completed his bachelor’s degree in the summer of 2014. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate, surrounded by family, friends and supporters from across the diocese, in February 2015. This past June, Tim began his Masters in Divinity studies in the Church Divinity School of the Pacific’s low residence program and expects to graduate in 2019.

God has soldered Tim back physically as well. No, Tim may not be able to bench press that 450 pounds anymore, but he and Noreen are a team. What one could do before, two can now do even better. They get everything done together. Tim says that you don’t really know him completely until you get to know Noreen.

God has certainly reinforced Tim’s broken pieces with gold. Tim sees his story of brokenness as what has made him who he is. He is able to use it to relate to others. He has known what is like to be isolated from God and family and then to come back and is able to guide others through similar experiences. Tim feels called to be in relationship with people and to serve at a small local church. The way Tim identifies himself is no longer as someone with physical strength, but, rather, as a child of God. “When we place our identity in Jesus Christ we become secure because Christ is always with us.”

Tim lives out that identity through his service to others. He is a Clergy Associate for Pastoral Ministries and sees part of his ministry as helping to facilitate a different understanding of what pastoral care is about. He says, “the worship we do on Sundays is practice for what we are to take into the world and share, but we need to make sure we share that with each other too.” Tim is also the founder of the “The Children of Abraham Project,” through which he helps bring Christians, Muslims and Jews together to understand each other. Tim truly believes in living out this question from the Baptismal covenant: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”

Tim is also grateful for all the support and love he has received from his community at the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. He is thankful for all the people who have taught him, guided him and supported him through his accident and ordination process. “Interacting with the body of Christ, my community, pushes my boundaries and forms me. I look forward to more of that.”

You can find the Rev. Tim Dyer, golden seams and all, at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Warren and St. Francis Episcopal Church in Youngsville serving as a deacon. He is there giving back what has been given to him and helping to solder broken pieces back together.

Julien Goulet, Assistant to Communications and Administration, Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania

The Perfect Gateway To Be A Witness To Christ

This is the second installment in a three part series highlighting the stories of our three seminarians. Click here to see the first story about Nicholas Evancho, written in April of 2015.

IMG_0020Making arrests. Threats of being blown up by those who have cut their gas lines to avoid arrest. Gun fights. Taking parents away from their children. All of these can be in a day’s work for Nick Kuchcinski, a member of the Cathedral of St. Paul and one of three seminarians in the diocese, in his job as an Adult Probation/Parole Officer. None of these things are typically events that we equate with being particularly evocative of God or ministry. However, for Nick, they are just that: “Some people see incongruity in my career and the ordination process. I see my career as a perfect gateway into people’s lives to be a witness to Christ.”

Nick’s journey to his career as a probation officer and to the ordination process in The Episcopal Church began in Erie, where he was born and raised. He was brought up in the Roman Catholic Church. Even as a teenager, Nick felt called to holy orders, however, he also felt just as strongly that he was called to have a family. Being Roman Catholic, he couldn’t do both. He attended Gannon University, where he majored in Criminal Justice. After college, Nick got married and focused on his career in criminal justice, which first took him to Allenwood, PA, to work as a corrections officer in a federal prison before returning to Erie for his current Kuchcinski and kidsjob. During that time, Nick and his wife had two wonderful children, but ended up divorcing, and he has since remarried.

It was the divorce that started Nick’s journey toward The Episcopal Church and the ordination process: “After the divorce I really started discerning my spiritual home not being in the Roman Catholic Church. I felt like a second class citizen because I wasn’t allowed to receive communion.” Nick hit a point where he couldn’t be true to himself and stay where he was.

Nick spends a lot of time in the courthouse, located across the street from the Cathedral of St. Paul, for his job. He started researching the Cathedral and eventually met with the dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev. Dr. John Downey. Dean Downey reassured him that, in The Episcopal Church, he could receive the sacraments even though he was divorced. Armed with that knowledge and finding a comfort in the liturgical nature of the church, a part of the Roman Catholic Church he had always loved, Nick soon found a church home at the Cathedral.

That was 5 years ago. Nick quickly got involved and the thoughts of priesthood started coming back to him. One Sunday in 2012, when he was vesting to serve as an acolyte, he finally got the courage and asked Dean Downey what it would take to become a priest in The Episcopal Church. Dean Downey responded, “I wondered when you were going to ask.” The rest is history.

Kuchcinski at CDSPNick Kuchcinski spent two weeks this past June at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) starting work on his Masters of Divinity degree. He is enrolled in their low residency program, which meets on campus twice a year for a few weeks and has online coursework the rest of the year. This is an ideal situation for him as he can work towards his degree while still maintaining his career.

While at CDSP, Nick enjoyed the schedule of classes bracketed by prayer (morning prayer, noon Eucharist, and evening prayer) that helped him feel fully immersed in the seminary lifestyle. Nick also enjoyed the intentional community and being able to form bonds with his fellow classmates: “We still pray together online every couple of weeks.” He was also amazed at the common experience of sitting in chapel with people from all over the world praying out of the same prayer book.

The plan is for Nick to be a bi-vocational priest, meaning that he will keep his job as an Adult Probation/Parole officer while serving part-time at a congregation.  This is fitting for Nick as he believes that he can be a witness in his role as a probation officer, just as well as when he is in his role as a priest. He sees the key as recognizing that every person, including the one he is arresting, is a human being made in the image and likeness of God. While it can be difficult at times, he pushes himself to deal with people with love so that others may see Christ in him and learn to see Christ in every person. By joining his secular vocation with his ordination, he hopes to be able to reach even more people with the message of Christ.

Nick will return to CDSP in January for the next on-campus immersion for his Masters in Divinity.

By: Julien Goulet, Assistant for Communications and Administration and Vanessa Butler, Canon for Administration

Trusting the Call

This is the first in a 3 part series highlighting the stories of the three members of our diocese who will be starting seminary this year.  Click here to see the second installment about Nick Kuchcinski.

1381374_309843139154662_231990307_nNicholas Evancho is a smart young man with a strong faith. He grew up in a single parent home attending the Presbyterian church where his mother was an elder. He began playing the organ at the age of 8 and read the Suma Theologica (the 3000 page compendium by Thomas Aquinas) for fun when he was young. He graduated Valedictorian from his high School in Hamburg, N.Y. and headed off to Grove City College for pre-med. He received a rude awakening and found his faith challenged by the theology at Grove City College. Now, almost 4 years later, he is going to graduate a changed man.

Nicholas is one of three members of our diocese beginning seminary this year, our diocese’s first seminarians since 2010. He has always been interested in religion and was very supported by his mother who took him to church and Sunday School. Nicholas thought about becoming a priest in high school but didn’t think he would actually go through with it. He felt that becoming a doctor was a more financially stable profession. However, the call kept gnawing at him. He continued to play the organ at his home church in New York and continued meeting with the Presbyterian pastor there who made him believe he had what it took to become a priest. It was on a trip to Boston that he attended Trinity Church in Copley Square (a 280 year old Episcopal church) and felt called to become an Episcopalian. This led him to Church of the Epiphany in Grove City and to his own epiphany.

Church of the Epiphany became a refuge for Nicholas. They not only helped him with practical things like rides but they also helped him emotionally. He had a hard time at college and it became a place where he could talk. He often had tea with Epiphany’s deacon, the Rev. Tricia Lavery when life got stressful. “They have given me more than I could have asked,” Nicholas says. He has found a church home there as well. He has played the organ, served as an acolyte, sung in the choir, led morning prayer, and been a Eucharistic Minister and a Eucharistic Visitor. Church of the Epiphany is also where Nicholas found answers to the questions about his faith that were started when he began to attend Grove City College. It “gave me a more loving interpretation of what I always believed.”

It turns out it was only a surprise to himself when he discerned the call to the priesthood.  Looking back he remembers going to graduate school fairs and spending more time talking to the seminaries than to the medical schools. His mother, who Nicholas describes as “the biggest influence in making me believe I could make it to where I am now,” was not surprised at all by this decision. Early on during a bible study at Church of the Epiphany, after a comment Nicholas made, Cheryl Wild (wife of the Rev. Geoff Wild, the vicar at Church of the Epiphany) said, “And thus spoke our next Episcopal priest.” Nicholas remembers thinking she was insane at the time. Then Nicholas attended the diocesan convention during his sophomore year. Getting to meet all the clergy and getting to participate in the church cemented the decision for him.

Nicholas is a changed man: “I finally decided to let my judgment go and trust that the rest would be taken care of.” He no longer needed the notion of financial stability through becoming a doctor. Nicholas will attend Virginia Theological Seminary this fall. He anticipates enjoying the Chapel as well as the tight knit community there, eating and worshiping together every day. He also looks forward to having his faith and views challenged so he can grow and be sure his faith stands up. We too are eager to see the priest Nicholas becomes.

Julien Goulet, Assistant for Communications and Administration, The Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania