2014: A Hildan Retrospective
Happy new year, to one and all! Now, I've never been too sure what the concrete significance of a new year is: most things remain the same, on an individual and societal level, and in my experience the vast majority of resolutions made on new year peter out precisely because they are grounded in a semi-arbitrary measure of time rather than a clear appreciation of the root causes of certain behaviours. That said, I do think that they provide an excellent excuse to look back on past events an appreciate the sheer amount of implausible wonder that can be packed into a meagre 365 days. So, here we have a very brief Hildan retrospective of 2014: a chance to reflect on the small and large things which make St. Hilda's House such a weird and wonderful place to be (and if you think it might be the kind of life you'd enjoy living, check out the Episcopal Service Corps application page here!)
Not one, not two, but three distinct communities have lived at Christ Church under the St. Hilda's umbrella.
First we had the Hildans of 2013-14, comprised of (L-R) Rachael MacClagan (Columbus House), Sam Berry (Saint Martin de Porres Academy), Cody Maynus (United Way, Boost), Andy Leigh-Bullard (United Way, Boost), Heidi Thorensen (New Reach), John Torrey (Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services), Beau Reynolds (United Way, Boost), Will Oxford (United Way, Boost) and Josh Travis (United Way, Boost).
Next up, the Red House, which was comprised of 7 returning Hildans from the 2012-13 year. Here we have David Burman (Christ Church), Ed Watson (Forward Movement, SMPA), Sam Butler (IRIS, Christian Community Action), Carrie Staab (Loaves and Fishes, CCA), Laurel McCormack (IRIS), Kayla Knotts (Columbus House) and Rick Durance (Community Soup Kitchen).
And finally, we have the Hildans of 2014-15, here striking their best Christian Rock Band pose on the beach at the Mercy Center in CT. Fronting the band is Will Oxford (Loaves and Fishes), with able support from Shanica Jarrett (New Reach), John Torrey (Christ Church), Kalekye Kvinda (Columbus House), Megan McDermott (CSK), and Ed Watson (Christ Church, SMPA).
All in all that comes to 19 young adults living and working together in intentional community over one year. And we think that's quite cool.
The Presiding Bishop
Wonder often stems from whimsy; so in one sense it's not at all surprising that the whimsy of the 2013-14 Hildans led to this wonderful visit from the Presiding Bishop. The Hildans sent her a letter inviting her to dinner, not expecting much, and next thing you know she's in the rectory living room asking all the right questions about living in intentional community. Sam and Cody were then helped her celebrate the Eucharist, before a lovely afternoon tea.
We estimate that between them the Hildans directly serve just under 1,000 people a week. Some of this is very direct and individual, some of it is geared towards meeting basic needs and solving systemic problems, some of it both. All of which means we have the opportunity to work with a large number amazing people week in, week out. Here are just a few easier to photograph examples;
Ed (Red House, Hilda's 14-15) and Sam Berry (Hilda's 13-14) with one of the Saint Martin de Porres students at his graduation. Ed was also lucky enough to see the first wave SMPA graduates he worked with graduate High School and go on to college, and both still work with SMPA.
Laurel McCormack (Red House) throwing a party for the staff and refugees at IRIS; an amazing day for all involved.
Will Oxford (Hilda's 13-14, 14-15) giving us a brief snapshot into his work as co-ordinator at Loaves and Fishes food pantry.
Retreats and other such things.
We have been blessed to spend quality time with each other outside of the busy rhythm of New Haven life. Our great thanks to the Brothers at Holy Cross and the Sisters at Mercy Centre for their hospitality, and allowing us to get some proper R&R in tranquil locations.
Finally, we have farewells. We first had to bid farewell to Father David Cobb, who was rector of Christ Church at St. Hilda's founding, and Mother Greta Getlein, who served as Chaplain. Though both are very sorely missed, we know they've gone on to amazing things in Chicago and Rhode Island respectively.
We've also said goodbye to many Hildans, and it's well worth taking a moment to reflect on where their year(s!) at the St. Hilda's led them to go. Starting with the Hildans of 2013-14, Heidi Thorensen and Beau Reynolds are both at Union Theological Seminary in New York, whilst Josh Travis is now studying at Yale Divinity School. Andy Leigh-Bullard has continued to live in community at the brand new ESC site The Lawrence House, Rachael McClagan is spending a year at Emory House in continued discernment, and Cody Maynus has returned to his native Minnesota to work with the Sisters of the Visitation Monastery as they spread the good news. Sam Berry, Will Oxford, and John Torrey meanwhile are still in New Haven: Sam is now teaches English and History at Saint Martin's, and John and Will have both stayed on with the St. Hilda's community.
Of the Red House, Rick Durance has started an MDiv at the University of Chicago and Carrie Staab is doing the same down at Sewanee. David Burman has returned to his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, to help with the running of their campus ministry, enter into the discernment process, and increase his chances of potentially meeting Peyton Manning. Laurel, Kayla, and Sam are all still living together in New Haven, continuing to work with the wider city community: Laurel still works with IRIS, Kayla still works with Columbus House, and Sam still works with City Seed and Pathways. Ed, meanwhile, is still hanging around St. Hilda's, splitting his time between working with SMPA and writing blog posts.
Which just leads us to wonder what 2015 holds. Aside from the fact of simple Hildan living, we've got a few things up our sleeves which we've very much looking forward to (so watch this space) Here's to another year of amazing work and new memories etc. etc. And wherever you are, whoever you are, we'd love for you to be a part of it, whether as a member of St. Hilda's or part of our wider community. Happy New Year!