A Grateful End, A Grateful Beginning

Jodi Baron is a Senior MDiv student from the Diocese of Western Michigan.  Jodi and her husband Christian graduate from Seminary of the Southwest on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 and will be returning to the Diocese of Western Michigan.


Gathered around the campfire for one of the last times with friends my demeanor is no less joyful but it occurs to me that this is my favorite season of the seminary year. Not because of the good-byes, (those are terrible!) but because of the atmosphere of joy and celebration: Juniors celebrating the accomplishment of completing their first year; Middlers celebrating the accomplishment of not only having two very intense years complete, but finishing one of the most challenging semesters of all; and Seniors, well…WE DID IT!!!!! And we’re all getting amazing placements, ordination dates, houses, reunions with family… it’s all coming together.

And I am grateful.

Reflecting on the last three years causes me to pause and breathe in deeply, the joy and beauty of this place, this MDiv program, and my place in it. It reveals, however, that pesky little thing my Spiritual Director told me would happen if I would but embrace the fact that God delights in me; if I was faithful to living into the God Life no matter where that leads.

You see, the decision to come to Seminary, and specifically Seminary of the Southwest, was not one entered into lightly.

It wasn’t an automatic.

And it certainly hasn’t been an easy sell.

“Where’s southwest?”
“Texas, huh?”

Being from Michigan, the logical choice was to go to a seminary program much closer to my home Diocese. And those would have been FINE institutions to be formed in; I have many friends in those seminaries that will make FINE priests!

But this choice, to come to SSW, wasn’t about logic, at least not that kind of logic. 

The “it’s always been done this way,” kind of logic.

This choice was about the logic that is revealed through deep listening and intentional engagement with all that a seminary has to offer, not just me, but my WHOLE family!

This choice was about discerning the type of patterns I would form through the community, academics, and chapel; through the parish internship for two years, the mentorship with faculty who served as our advisors, friends, and advocates…and then there’s the formation through living on the block. 

Where we learned how to be good neighbors, live in close proximity to people who we not only have to encounter but also worship with on a daily basis.  People who my children have formed their most powerful images of friendship and love.  People who forgive me when I mess up and tell ask me for forgiveness when I’ve hurt them.  People whom I’ve broken bread with, sipped libations on my porch with, cried with, laughed with, sang with, prayed with, failed with, and got it right with. 

This is a special place.  And I am so grateful.

I’m grateful that I was sent to seminary from a great parish, was formed at a great seminary, and am being sent to a great parish.

I’m grateful that I will forever call this seminary, my seminary, and that people will recognize the type of minister I am because of the formation I received here.  I am grateful.