MDiv senior Leesa Lewis spent this last summer serving at St. Alban Episcopal Mission of Antigua, Guatemala. It was a journey that began nearly a year earlier when she heard about the Seminary Consultation on Mission Grant (SCOM) at the beginning of fall 2021.
“Knowing my heart for missions and specifically for the people of Guatemala, I was drawn to this opportunity,” Lewis said. “Dr. Steve Bishop proved to be just the cheerleader that I needed and provided tremendous support and insight. Mid November, an email came congratulating me on my proposal being accepted… Maybe, a seminary student COULD affect change!”
During Spring Break of 2021, Lewis visited Guatemala and met the Right Rev. Silvestre Romero, which opened the door for her to work with his parish.
“For my grant, I proposed to develop a ‘Parish Personality Profile’ that would accurately portray the goals and needs of each parish by personally visiting each of the parishes as identified by Bishop Romero through interviews with the priest, deacon and church elders and leaders,” Lewis said.
When contemplating what kind of work she should do, the Lord led Lewis to use her gifts and passions in art and spirituality.
“Since my background is in studio art and art history, an offering of art and spirituality seminars for St. Alban was suggested,” Lewis said. Her professors at Southwest particularly inspired her in this work.
“Utilizing my education from my previous Southwest class with the same title, Art and Spirituality with Dr. Claire Columbo paved the way for leading three different seminars based on Lectio Divina, grounding exercises, and core art exercises,” Lewis said. “Sharing information gleaned from Dr. Baker’s theology classes, specifically on the teachings of St. John of Damascus, linked with the seminar. While writing the opening prayers for each seminar, recollections from Dr. Jennings’ Liturgy II class were summoned.”
Over the summer, Lewis was able to create a parish profile for St. Alban Episcopal Mission of Antigua, Guatemala. They are a transitory-member parish with an active “Zoom” congregation. This parish profile collected all of their information so anyone interested can find the history of the parish, the schedule of services, and photos and messages from the priest and vestry.
“Honestly, this experience was life changing. It demonstrated to me just how much I have learned and am prepared to share my seminary education with others,” Lewis said. “This grant was an incredible blessing by giving me the opportunity to serve God through getting to create a parish profile, serving with St. Alban, constructing three art and spirituality seminars, participating with the San Tomas Seminary for a day, then the bonus of preaching at St. Alban lead to the lifetime of relationships with our siblings in Guatemala. The living abroad experience, sharing our Lord not simply with words but with life whetted my appetite for serving in an even fuller capacity.”