Sabbatical Program 2022-3

The clergy, wardens and vestry are pleased to announce plans for a sabbatical program for our rector The Reverend Dr John A Cerrato. Near the end of 2022 or at the outset of 2023 (TBD) John and Mary Cerrato will embark on a three month course of renewal and spiritual restoration. During that time, the parish will engage diocesan clergy to lead our worship and continue to minister pastoral care. Read more about it here.

Sabbatical Program Rationale & Design 

Keble College Chapel, Oxford

A 1.  The title for our program is Thou Art the Journey: Reflecting on a Vocation Lived, Soundings for the Path Forward and New Resources for Sharing Spiritual Discernment. Our rector will explore, reflect on and critically recall the steps that led him into his life-vocation as a scholar-priest with an eye to a renewed self-understanding, which in turn will provide resources for the ministry of walking collegially with ministry aspirants — seminarians and diaconal candidates — on their journey into discernment. One the most effective recent ministries (2017-19) shared by our priest and our parish has been the two-year supervision of a seminarian, an aspirant to the ministry who co-ministered with us in liturgy, youth catechesis and homiletics, learning as she served among us and sharing her gifts with the community. Often described as the supervision of field education or a seminarian internship, it bears similarities to the curacy model of priestly formation. Anna was the third of three aspirants who have been mentored by John Cerrato during the years of his parochial service. Saint Martin’s Church responded energetically to Anna’s presence and work among us, opening the prospect of continuing such a ministry of practical training and inter-personal education with other seminarians. Beginning in early 2020, the Covid outbreak put a hold on that possibility for several years. We are hoping now, in mutual ministry with our diocese, to resume our discernment and formation ministry of working with ordinands and other individuals on their educational journey. As a prelude to this renewal of parochial-diocesan-national ministry, our priest is planning to re-examine his own calling to ministry — incepted three decades ago — by revisiting many of the sites and communities foundational to his formation and influential in  his original sense of discernment. He and his spouse will arrange three months of travel in the United States and England, staying in communities of formation, interviewing the current leaderships, re-initiating conversations with those who guided him in his direction-finding, some of whom he has not connected with in some time. He will journal and blog his experiences in order to document his explorations, while re-reading texts on discernment, spiritual direction and religious formation, especially in the Anglican and Celtic traditions. The end result will be a renewed self-understanding, a refreshment in the literature and resources of discernment and formation and a revitalization of energy to work with aspirants, once back in the parish and diocese. 

A 2.   As we emerge from the health and safety protocols of Covid — knowing that relapses are possible — we wish to re-engage in our ministry with the Diocese of Ohio in mentoring, forming and supporting prospective servants of the wider church. The Diocese of Ohio has a working relationship with Bexley Seabury Seminary and an in-house approach to the practical discipling of future servant leaders. Our recent past experience with the program, led within the parish by John Cerrato and a Formation Committee, was a positive and impressive experience for the community and a gift to our seminarian. In the light of that two year ministry we intend to continue receiving placements, who will work primarily with our priest in worship, homiletics, catechesis and other areas of ministries: possibly outreach, pastoral care, community initiatives. 

As John Cerrato approaches his 30th year of ordained ministry (1993), it is a fitting season for him, his spouse Mary Cerrato and those with whom he has journeyed, to open conversations and reflections on the original calling into ministry and assess its continuities, changes, joys, difficulties, challenges and triumphs. Meeting and speaking with influential individuals from the past, as well as reconnecting with communities which shaped that vision of vocation will be part of the travel plan. The blogging, journaling, composing poetry and prose en route to a deeper understanding of one vocation in the light of many others, will refresh our priest’s energy and capacity to work in discernment and formation with seminarians and others God might send our way. This is an appropriate time for the rector and the congregation to pursue these goals since he is in his eighth year of ministry with the parish and his calling agreement with the parish provides for a three month sabbatical leave after six years of service. Also, following the challenges of the Covid years and our reentry into a period of new normalization, it is fitting that new initiatives be pursued going forward, especially an exploration and embrace of new ministry opportunities able to be resourced by the parish and its volunteer base. 

A 3.  Our priest writes: We are planning a three-month sabbatical (one block of time) and intend to visit several cities in the UK for varying periods of time, meeting with people of the communities, especially those we know and knew formerly. Our home base for three months will be Oxford, England, where I will have access to the libraries and other collections, which I will use for reading and writing. From Oxford we will travel to sites throughout England which inspire us and encourage us in our spirituality.