College study group leads to ordination
WESTFIELD — Approxi-mately six years ago, Rev. Virginia Carr began a theological study group with some SUNY Fredonia students. This non-denominational gathering focused on asking questions with open discussion. This would begin the ongoing participation of some of its music students attending St. Peter’s Church Choir and the spiritual growth of the Church.
As a sophomore, Pilar Padron had “reluctantly” accepted one of the invitations from a fellow music major student. Pilar comes from Rome, New York and has grown up as an Episcopalian. Her hometown church had fallen apart, so she needed a congregational family to call home. Little did she know how much this small church community and its priest, would impact her decision to seek ordination.
With the Episcopal Diocese of WNY, Bishop William Franklin, St. Peter’s Parish and most notably Rev. Carr; Padron was guided and supported along an intensive discernment process. She has stated that “the good things happening at St. Peter’s will continue to affect the larger community.”
Time has passed quickly, and Pilar has now completed her education at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. She is actively seeking employment and aspires to become a “Parish Priest” someday. Parishioners could not have been happier to have Padron make a special trip on Sunday, Feb. 26 to give a special presentation of her seminary experience over the past few years.
Her poise, speech, and comfortability to address and engage the congregation was truly inspirational. She spoke about her experiences and involvement with: committees, a praise band, seminary life, family sacrifices, relationships, trips to China, Istanbul, Jerusalem, and volunteer work with the needy. Regarding seminary, “I had expected a pious community where people just love Jesus and God all the time. However, it’s just more of the same, good intentions, but people don’t communicate well,” she said.
Padron spent the summer of 2015 as a Chaplain for the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo. She would learn to overcome fears and meet the needs of: “four deaths in three days,” praying for people, organizing funeral arrangements, and staying with family until the body was released. She states, “I realized strengths I didn’t know I had.”
Padron talked about the value of intergenerational ministry. She noted that we have a lot to teach and share with each other, “especially to pray.”
She shared with the group some life changing moments. One was about a little girl who “chose” to become a Christian, receive Jesus, and get baptized. She spoke about how people don’t engage in conversations and explain things enough. She shared how she had experienced this awareness and authenticity with the Eucharist. In the “moment when the Holy Spirit becomes present in these Elements and they become the Body and Blood of Jesus. And this is the Grace we receive through it.”
Padron had obviously changed, but how had this experience affected her relationship with God, and to see her through difficult times? Pausing, she responded “God” is the reason, and an understanding that everything comes from Him. Engaging in spiritual practices, time alone with God, developing that personal relationship, and having a spiritual partner. Validating her thoughts, “the only way I can be true myself, is to be what God has called me to be in Seminary.”
Padron’s ordination will be on June 3 at the Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo. She has been released from this Diocese to serve elsewhere, perhaps Texas or Virginia. The parish members know she will be as much of a blessing to others, as she has been to St. Peter’s.
Sometimes, we experience moments, moments of clarity; an awareness that we are part of something much bigger than we could have ever imagined. We press forward, peace comes over us, and Joy fills the soul.