Bren O'Connor -- Digital Missioner for Christ Church Cathedral, DAH 2.0
After completing my year, I worked in a lobbying firm for the hotel industry, and am currently in retail management. On the side, I operate and write a blog about the intersection of spirituality and philosophy, brenphilosophy.com.
As someone who works in the secular world, Deaconess Anne House's Benedictine values of prayer and vocation helped me recognize how Christ's Great Commission takes many forms. The faithfulness and love of Deaconess Anne House gave me the strength to begin my gender transition, and I have since worked to connect the progressive Christian tradition to my experience as a transwoman.
Peter Armstrong, 2015-16 served as Digital Missioner at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St Louis. Currently, he is working at Sojourners on issues of faith and social justice in Washington, D.C. for one year before going to Yale Divinity School starting August 2017. He writes:
"It was in St. Louis that my eyes were opened to the justice issues of our time. I realized that one of my most important tasks, as a straight white man in discernment for priesthood, would be to model ally-ship by raising up the voices of those less privileged. My goal now for seminary is to listen, learn, and act to further the conversation around race and privilege in our country and our church."
Imagine 10 degrees and a Wind....
On Friday morning at 8 AM, our hearty community gathered at the bustop near our house. We had hot coffee, 48 donuts, a poster that said "We Hope For...." and warm smiles. It was FREEZING cold. Perhaps I already mentioned that? The bus stop was not busy. Many of those waiting had just eaten breakfast and delcined a donut or coffee. However, we had six hearty neighbors who were happy to get a coffee or a donut. Of the six, half were homeless. So, we didn't encounter a lot of people, but the ones we met shared their stories and their warmth. It felt important to be there. We left with chilly hands and warm hearts. Woud we do it again? Yes. For sure. And we will!!
Shown L - R: Jose, Christian, Katie, Sam and Mary Haggerty, Spritual Formation Worskshop Director
urprises in Community Life- Sam Prescott
Whenever strangers are placed together in a community, surprises are bound to occur. For me this year, I have found those surprises to be in the times when I realize how truly different we all are in within the community. Although all of our personalities differ, we all ended up in the same place at the same time. Even though we all may have chosen to be a part of Deaconess Ann House for a variety of reasons, we all chose it and are now living under one roof together.
Community life may not always be easy and fun like it may seem on the outside, but when it is easy and fun it’s a reminder of what we are trying to strive towards as we live together. We should be trying to create a life of lifting each other up and enjoying the year that we have together and when those moments do happen it is always a nice surprise to see a glimpse of what God’s kingdom will look like someday.
So while community life is hard and some days we may not want to get out of bed for morning prayer, it is usually those days when we want to give up that God shows up and surprises us the most.
Surprises in Personal Life- Katie Morse
I came to St. Louis for a year of spiritual discernment, hoping that this year would give me purpose, meaning, and direction, forming me into the person that God intended for me to be. My path toward growth has not been steady or without doubt. Living in Old North has opened my eyes to disenfranchised neighborhoods. My work with a local nonprofit allows me to see Christ through others every day.
Racial and socioeconomic lines I never noticed before are becoming clearer and clearer. I always liked to think of myself as a person of faith, but as the old adage goes “faith without works is dead.” I look at the injustice and ignorance in the world and realize that God’s kingdom is only realized when we stop separating ourselves from one another. I have been complicit in that separation without consciously realizing I was contributing to those divides through my passivity.
I knew there were deep wounds in the world but didn’t know how deep they ran. I feel a passionate sense of purpose to heal those wounds and truly see others.
Surprises in Service Work – Christian Davis, Gap-Year Intern
I joined Deaconess Ann House two months late. Immediately, I started working at Gateway180. I had never seen,or, for that matter, stepped into a homeless shelter before. Naturally, there have been many surprises within the first month. One of the bigger surprises is, unlike other shelters, Gateway180 keeps families together by allowing boys over the age of 14 to stay in the shelter with their families. The biggest surprise of all, is the joy and laughter I see occurring between clients and staff. We have a roof to share and we all share it with over 170 people.
One moment that stood out to me was my third day on the job. My supervisor, Kathy, asked me to put a client's resume on a public website, Indeed.com. After some technical difficulty and wifi malfunction, I decided to go work in the public computer lab with the client. The client, Ms. S, and I sat together for thirty minutes writing her resume out on the computer. Once we finished, I noticed that she was genuinely surprised that one person would take the time to help her to that degree. In our technological society, it is very easy to take such things for granted. Because of this, her utter joy struck me with amazing surprise.
Overall, I have enjoyed my time at Gateway180 so far. Now, I look forward to the surprises to come.
Jose Marks Surprises in Old North
Old North is in the midst of/sphere-heading political/social awakenings that are permeating all across the city!!! Community leaders and representatives are banding together, rallying and activating minds while having overly difficult yet pertinent conversations about the state of St. Louis’s political, gender, socioeconomic and judicial landscapes.
As the famous quote goes, “A riot is the language of the unheard,” & I’ve found comfort in the chaos of resounding voices. If rebellion’s inconvenient to the oppressive powers that be, then label me a proponent of systematic change and peace.
There’s a burgeoning movement and dialog that refuses to go away, and it’s rooted in representative accountability and love for one’s neighbors of all walks. There’s a paradigm shift, inadequate regimes are being challenged and defeated, those that stand for & with the people are overthrowing incumbents, marginalized voices are being heard and policies that benefit communities supposed to big business are being implemented. All’s beginning to appear a bit more joyous.
Surprised by Joy – The Rev. Rebecca Ragland
Greetings to you from Deaconess Anne House! In this time of national transitions, and global uncertainty, we thought it would be a faithful response to focus on the season with an eye toward being wonder-fully suprised.
The year of Jesus’ birth was uncertain and rife with danger. It was a season of transition, risk and fear. And born into it was the best surprise: our savior, Christ the Lord.
We’ve seen Jesus present in the bleakest circumstances of our neighborhood, relationships, work and faith. We’ve encountered the unexpected light that shines in the darkness and is not overcome. Our prayer for you is that you too will notice the surprises this season. May joy be yours.
First year Deaconess Anne alumna, Michaelene Miller, is in North Dakota standing on against the pipeline. Here's what she posted:
November 2 at 6:07pm
I'm only in North Dakota today because of inner work that I started doing with y'all in St. Louis with DAH. I carry each of you in my heart while I'm standing in solidarity with Standing Rock.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Deaconess Anne House, took a road trip retreat to the great city of Memphis! We were wonderfully housed in two guest houses on the campus of Memphis Theological Seminary where our own Sophie Lively's uncle is president. Not only did he and his family host us for dinner, but he gave us a tour of their beautiful facility, joined us for conversation as we planned our Feminine God month (more on that later) and then took us out for brunch. Other highlights included: The Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street and Dancing, seeing friends from City of Soul - ESC Memphis, the Stax Record Tour, and having fun together! Enjoy some pics!!
My name is Eric Bablinskas. I served with the Deaconess Anne House in St. Louis from 2013-2014. I was part of the inaugural year of the program. While there, I worked with the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group as the Faith and Community Intern and the Farmers' Market Coordinator.