Maryland Woman Serves As Episcopal Vicar
By ANGIE BRANT
CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — In this day and age, it seems all of us have used the phrase “multitasking,” but few can appreciate the challenges of this skill as well as Vicar Theresa Brion.
At the beginning of this year, Brion accepted the position of vicar at both St. George’s Episcopal Church in Mount Savage and Holy Cross-St. Philip’s in Cumberland. This is in addition to her position as bishops’ deputy for Western Maryland for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
The path that led Brion to this region is as diverse as the families she now serves.
Ministry is not the first career choice for Brion, or even the second. She came to ministry after serving as a professional in both the fields of education and law. She earned her law and teaching degrees at Washington and Lee University School of Law and Longwood University, respectively.
Despite successful careers in both fields, Brion felt a pull toward ministry and, in 2006, she answered that call and enrolled in the Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts.
“It was something that just would not let go of me, the call kept tugging at me over the years. And after a while, you no longer can say ‘no’ or ‘later, God’ to God. You just know deep within you that that is who you are and, thus, that is what you need to do,” she said.
After completing her masters in divinity in 2009, Brion was assigned to serve as bishops’ deputy for Western Maryland. As a native of the Appalachian Mountains, Brion felt an immediate kinship with the people of the eight churches in Allegany and Garrett counties she was appointed to serve. Brion coordinates mutual ministry programs and provides pastoral care and oversight to mutual ministry teams.
She was ordained in October 2010 and was selected to serve as vicar of the two local churches in late 2011. Her tenure began in January.
Brion considers the dual role as a blessing, noting that she now has twice the number of people to bring joy into her life, both professionally and personally.
The schedule can often be daunting, meeting the needs and obligations of both congregations, but Brion said she has adapted quickly, thanks to the patience and cooperation of both congregations.
An optimist by nature, Brion does not consider the logistics of serving two congregation as a challenge, but rather an opportunity to work with two groups of people, helping them to meet their spiritual needs and desires.
Brion said her time as bishops’ deputy served as a wonderful introduction to the congregations that she now serves.
Brion said her success would not be possible without the cooperation and support of her two deacons, the Rev. Lydia Martin, St. George’s; and the Rev. John C. Martin Jr., Holy Cross-St. Philip’s.
“These are the real leaders, they make it possible to work at both churches. They make sure everything is coordinated and organized,” Brion said.
Brion also credits the willingness of members of both congregations and is energized by the sense of vitality and growth she has witnessed at both locations.
“We are growing in numbers and energy at both churches,” Brion added. “It is a blessing to have the opportunity to work with so many people. I love them all.”
The Rev. Lydia Martin echoes that belief, but credits Brion for the change.
“The sparks fly in her ability to network to be able to connect people with people, organizations, employment opportunities and many other diverse needs people may have. She is the most unselfish, dedicated and hard-working person I know, always ready to serve her parishioners,” Martin said.
Martin said she is impressed with how dedicated Brion is to ministering to both congregations.
“She takes responsibility seriously, and goes about her many duties without complaining, yet always making time for helping others.”
Martin said Brion’s diverse educational and career backgrounds provide her unique insight when helping her parishioners face difficult or challenging times.
“With her background of having been a lawyer, she is also especially helpful and sensitive to persons having legal problems, supporting and serving them in her role as priest,” Martin added. “We at St. George’s are very happy to have Theresa as our vicar; we are thankful for her brilliant leadership abilities as well as her compassionate care.”
The Rev. L. Rowland Bonadie, priest-in-charge emeritus, Holy Cross-St. Philip’s Church, said he feels Brion’s leadership will prove beneficial to the members, adding that she brings a sense of discipline and desire for moving forward that he feels will result in growth for the church as a whole.
“Those are just some of the many gifts that she brings here,” he said.
As Brion settles in following the busy Easter season, she said the transition has been smooth and she is content with her new position and her new home in Western Maryland.
“It has been a natural fit. It feels more like a homecoming rather than settling in somewhere new,” she said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)