Sabbatical Program 2023

The clergy, wardens and vestry are pleased to announce plans for a sabbatical program for our rector The Reverend Dr John A Cerrato. From 1 January to 31 March 2023 John and Mary Cerrato will embark on a three month course of renewal and spiritual restoration. During that time, the parish will welcome The Reverend Richard Israel to lead our worship, support our ministries and continue to offer pastoral care.

Sabbatical Program Rationale & Design 

Keble College Chapel, Oxford

As a scholar-priest our rector John Cerrato will pursue the completion of several writing projects based on his previous doctoral studies. Primary among them will be the finishing of English translations of the Greek works of Hippolytus, a writer of the early church. Travel plans include time in Oxford, England, and use of the Bodleian Library. On 2 February 2023, Dr Cerrato will celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, an ordination which took place in Oxford in 1993. To be in Keble College Chapel again for that day will mark a wonderful milestone in his spiritual pilgrimage of service to the Church.


We are pleased to announce The Reverend Richard Israel will serve among us as our sabbatical priest, leading worship, overseeing administration and offering pastoral care. Rev Israel is retired from many years of parochial ministry in the Lutheran Church and in The Episcopal Church, most recently in Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights. He served as sabbatical priest in Saint Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Gates Mills, in 2021. He is graduate of Yale Divinity School and brings a wealth of experience to the ministry he will offer in January, February and March 2023. We welcome Rev Israel, give thanks for his gifts and bid your prayers for him as he serves in Saint Martin’s parish church.



The following information reflects the practice of clergy sabbaticals in the Diocese of Ohio. We hope you will find it helpful in terms of “big picture” information about sabbaticals.

In Biblical tradition, a sabbatical, or recurrent period of rest and renewal, is a full year every seventh year. Such an extended absence is rarely practical in parishes of the Church, yet a periodic sabbatical leave holds great benefit for ordained clergy in parochial or diocesan employ and is a standard practice recognized across the Church as a means for clergy to keep their ministry vibrant. Because the work of clergy is unique and intersects with the lives of those they serve beyond a typical workday or week, the only way for clergy to truly have time away for deep renewal is in the form of a sabbatical. Therefore, a sabbatical leave is not a gift but a normal and expected part of spiritual and professional development for clergy.

A sabbatical is not merely a leave intended for rest, relaxation, and a change of routine. Such is already provided for clergy as annual vacation. Nor is a sabbatical necessarily or simply an extended continuing education program. Sabbath time is for the opening of one’s self to the working of the Holy Spirit and for renewal of one’s sense of vocation. Sabbatical leave offers time for extended reflection, research, writing, and other opportunities not possible in the clergy’s annual allotted continuing education time. Sabbatical leave also provides time for less structured personal and spiritual renewal which might or might not have immediately apparent benefits or measurable outcomes. Any plan for sabbatical leave needs to leave room and time for the gracious and often surprising movements of God’s Holy Spirit.

For the parish, sabbatical time is an opportunity to hone the ministry of the laity. It is recommended that one or more de-briefing meetings for all interested be held soon after the conclusion of the sabbatical. The purpose of such meetings is not simply to welcome the clergy person home but for clergy and lay leadership to recognize and discuss learnings, opportunities, and hopes as the clergy-parish relationship is re-established.

Definition of a Sabbatical Leave

  • In the 7th year of a cleric’s active ministry, he or she may take a scheduled sabbatical.
  • A recommended diocesan standard for sabbatical leave is three months.
  • A sabbatical is understood to be time released from regular duties for the purpose of spiritual renewal, study, theological reflection, and strengthening of skill according to a plan developed by the cleric.
  • A cleric preparing for sabbatical leave shall compose a proposal that identifies the time requested and that describes his or her plans for sabbatical and present the proposal to the vestry.
  • The parish retains the responsibility to continue to pay the normal salary and benefits to and on behalf of the cleric for the duration of the leave. The parish also remains responsible for paying for supply priests who assist in the priest’s absence. With this in mind, parishes may want to set aside a designated fund for supply so that financial support will be available when the cleric takes their sabbatical leave. Such a fund could be accrued over a period of several years in anticipation of the sabbatical year.
  • The cleric and parish may also wish to be in conversation about setting aside additional designated funds for the cleric’s use during sabbatical. Common designations are for education, travel, and other sabbatical-specific expenses. 
  • The cleric preparing for sabbatical leave shall take primary responsibility, in consultation with the vestry, for making satisfactory arrangements for worship services, pastoral care, and parish administration during his or her absence.

From Saint Martin’s Sabbatical Priest: The Rev Richard Israel

In preparation for Father John’s upcoming sabbatical leave he has asked me to share a little bit of my background with you by way of introduction.  I am a Lutheran minister, ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and licensed to serve in the Diocese of Ohio by Bishop Hollingsworth.  I retired from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights in 2018 after serving as Associate Rector at that parish for twelve years.  

I am married to the Rev. Lois Annich, a Presbyterian minister, whom I first met when we were both students at Yale Divinity School.  Lois is a certified professional coach with the International Coaching Federation.  We have two grown children, Tim, a visual arts teacher at the Ellis School in Pittsburgh and Molly, an actor and producer, now a full-time mom to two year old Aiden and two month old Eliza.  Molly and her husband Tyler, and children, live in Fairfield, CT.  Lois and I live near Shaker Square with our rescue dog, Trouper.

Since retiring I have enjoyed being able to pick and choose my activities.  While my primary role is serving as “house husband”, a job title that covers many tasks including gardener, cook, home project foreman, and dog walker, I also enjoy serving on the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies, volunteering with Greater Cleveland Congregations, and serving as a docent for the Undesign the Redline exhibit at Trinity Cathedral.  During Covid  I have learned, like all of you, to “zoom” with friends and family and enjoy having more time for reading.

While Father John enjoys his much deserved sabbatical leave, I look forward to getting to know you, the people of St. Martin’s, and worshiping, studying, and being of pastoral support with and to you.  In my ministry at St. Paul’s Church I was blessed to enjoy two sabbaticals and came back from each of them with new energy and enthusiasm for ministry.  

It was my pleasure to preach at St. Martin’s this past summer while Father John was on vacation.  I experienced a warm welcome and was nurtured by the beauty and tranquility of your beautiful church.    I hope you will feel free to call on me whenever you are in need of pastoral assistance and personal support during my time as your sabbatical priest.  I hope each of you will look back on Father John’s sabbatical as a time of learning and growth for you personally on your faith journey as well as for St. Martin’s as a parish.