It is with mixed emotions of excitement and a bit of sadness that I write to you today to let you know that I have taken a call to be Rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Austin, TX. I am excited because I have been called to a liturgically vibrant, proudly multicultural community with amazing lay leaders who are ready to find new ways to carry the gospel into the changing neighborhoods of East Austin. The sadness, of course, is about leaving Houston Canterbury and you.
Over the last three years, we have worked together to create something new through Houston Canterbury: a different model of college ministry that makes space for commuter students and community college students. We have formed a culturally diverse and supportive community in which people pray for and support each other as we explore God’s call to us together. We have reached out to campuses where the Episcopal Church had not been present before. We have celebrated the Eucharist in canoes and taken the Stations of the Cross on the road on bikes. We have developed partnerships with UH Wellness and UH Human Resources and have attended to the mental, financial, and spiritual health of students from a variety of backgrounds. We have explored our vocation and have delved deeply into Scripture, asking questions shamelessly. I feel confident that this good work begun will continue, as Maria Bautista Vargas as well as many young adult leaders with whole-hearted diocesan support will see Houston Canterbury through the coming transition.
Here is what that transition will look like:
We will kick off the school semester together with all the things: The Gathering, Grace Hour, Ladies’ Nights, Skeptics Supper Club, Eat. Pray. Go., College Retreat, etc. My last day will be at The Gathering on February 3. Maria tells me it will be a party, so you are all invited! Maria and student leaders, with the help of special clergy guests, will keep things going this semester while the diocese interviews (with student participation) candidates for the missioner position. The hope is that the next missioner will be in place by summer or fall 2019, so that this growing network of missional communities touching many campuses can take things to the next level. Things like the EDOT College Ministries Costa Rica Mission Trip will still be happening, so stay tuned and involved.
I want to conclude by saying that I feel blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity to build this new thing, Houston Canterbury, with you, and I want to be sure to have a chance to check-in and say that to you in person before February 3. When you come back to campus and the semester gets rolling, I will see you there.
The Rev. Eileen O’Brien
Campus Missioner, Houston Canterbury