Friday, January 2, 2015

Meet Your Chapter Candidates!

Join us at the Annual Meeting on January 18th as we elect  four candidates to our Cathedral Chapter  (our board or directors).  You can meet them in person at the forum at 9am on Jan 11.  For more information about our Chapter and Cathedral governance go to

Alan Cornell 

 Having attended and been a member of the Episcopal Church for over fifty years, I have never before had the kind of spiritual experience that I have had here at St. Paul’s. St. Paul’s consistently offers a truly inspirational liturgical presentation and outstanding music and arts program which I find offers a peace beyond all understanding. I am equally impressed by the inclusiveness so deeply expressed in so many ways, especially at communion. Outreach to the greater community is our mission and is encouraged and promoted by the many programs available which enhance and enrich our lives.

I have received so much from St. Paul’s: the most enlightening and educational forums; the thought provoking messages from the pulpit; the acknowledged inclusiveness of the congregation; and the superb music and arts programs. I truly believe in "give and you shall receive". I have received so much in spiritual guidance and support, that I feel now is the time for me to offer my time and talents to the Chapter.

After fifty five years as a professional income tax consultant, I retired. I had earned a degree in accounting from Claremont Men’s College, but chose to specialize in personal income tax, because it involved working with and helping people with their financial futures. I have experience with church administration as I have served on the vestry of another parish and chaired their stewardship committee through a successful campaign. I have been an active member of the Bonita Optimist Club/Foundation for over twenty years serving several terms as Treasurer.

I look forward to offering my time and talents wherever they may best be used. 

Martha Curatolo 

Many years have passed since 2005 when I worked at St. Paul’s Villa as a Social Services Coordinator. A Priest resident passed away and I attended his funeral service at the Cathedral; at the service I learned that the Priest that died was gay, and I saw a woman priest at the service. I was moved with the openness of the church and also with the inspiration of Cheryl Wilson, CEO of St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services. This inspired me to become an Episcopalian.

I love St. Paul’s for its spiritual core of Social Justice and community outreach, the inclusive atmosphere, the diverse ministries, and the broad range of social services.

I live in Alpine so I attended Christ the King and sporadically attended St. Paul’s. In 2012 the Hispanic congregation was going through a transition and I felt a calling to collaborate and support this congregation. Since then, I commute to St. Paul’s and I attend the Misa and some times the 10:30 service as well.

I worked with Father Bjorn, and now with Rev. Colin Mathewson organizing and fostering the growth of the congregation. We have seen the congregation grow and we have also established a “Grupo Pastoral” (a committee), and I am their community liaison. As a Social Worker, I envision continuing to develop strategies to reach more Hispanics and serve as a bridge between the two congregations.

Being born and raised in Colombia, then moving to the United States, I have learned to appreciate cultural differences. My professional expertise includes many years of experience as a case manager, crisis intervention, problem solving, community organizer, and a liaison with social, health and community agencies. I volunteer on a weekly basis at the Diocese and I am participating in the Hispanic Leadership Project that will start next year. 

Rob Donaldson 

 I was born into a very active Mormon family, descended directly from a prominent church founding figure. For much of my life I was very active in that tradition, e.g. going to Korea on a 2 year mission, attending BYU, and holding positions in local and regional church leadership.

However, I always secretly cast a jealous eye toward the Anglican tradition. Both sides of my family are from the U.K., and I always loved the architecture, the liturgy, the history and tradition, and, as an organist and choral musician, especially the music of the Episcopal and Anglican churches. It was all far more beautiful and inspiring than that of the church in which I was raised, and I felt quite deprived that my own church seemed actively to reject all of it.

Professionally, I am an attorney. My career has focused on the business of technology. After starting at a large international law firm, I became in-house counsel for several major technology companies, most recently Apple and now HP, where I'm in charge of legal affairs for the global supply chain, procurement and logistics operations of HP's printer business.

I first discovered St. Paul's in 2003 when I ran across an online announcement about Christmas Lessons & Carols. I knew the service and had loved watching it on PBS from King's College Chapel at Cambridge, and was thrilled to find I could see it live. I was going through a difficult divorce at the time, so when I first set foot in St. Paul's for that service it was exactly the haven of peace and beauty I needed. I dragged my parents back for the same service the next year, and my non-musician staunchly Mormon father was so impressed he put a $50 bill in the collection plate.

So by the time Proposition 8 came along and forced me to re-examine everything I'd ever believed about religion and faith and who to trust, I had become familiar with St. Paul's. During that faith crisis Dean Scott Richardson was a kind and caring shepherd for whose steadying hand and counsel I will always be grateful. I realized that, having left behind a church I could no longer trust or believe, I was lucky to be able to walk right into another faith community that would welcome me exactly as I was, with none of the restrictions or demands that had made my previous place increasingly difficult.

I had no need to wander in any wilderness; I already had a place to go, one that I realized I'd loved for most of my life already. For me the Episcopal Church is the perfect combination of tradition, aesthetics, inspiration, intellectual and spiritual freedom, and a genuine effort to walk the talk of Christian service and make a real impact for good in the real world. Having found such a place in St. Paul's, I am honored to be invited to give back by formally devoting some of my time and talents  to serving as a member of the chapter. I believe, as the parable of the talents teaches, that each of us should use the gifts we were given to both increase them and bless others if we can. As an attorney, and having served for some time now as one of the instructors and leaders in the St. Paul's youth group (where my children are active and enthusiastic participants), I hope to be able to contribute whatever I can as a member of the chapter to help St. Paul's continue to grow and prosper. It's the least I can do for the place that took me in years ago when I was confused and rudderless, and which has blessed me and my children in so many ways. 

Marian Gaston

Several years ago Dean Richardson gave a Christmas Eve sermon in which he highlighted the differences in the New Testament’s birth narratives. In gloomy Matthew, the good news of the arrival of the Messiah is tinged with anxiety. The wise men who journey to see the newborn king go home by a different route after having nightmares warning them of the wrath of King Herod. Their fears are not misplaced: Herod’s jealousy results in his ordering the slaughter of all the infant boys in Bethlehem. In Luke, on the other hand, we hear the angel Gabriel praise Mary as blessed among women. Mary’s soul magnifies the Lord. When the shepherds reach the baby Jesus this time, they are not warned to scurry away; they are met by an angel and a multitude of heavenly hosts declaring, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace and good will towards men.”

For the past 16 years, St. Paul’s has been the sacred place where I am encouraged to embrace both of the realities reflected in these stories, and in Dean Richardson’s sermon: the world is a dark and dangerous yet joyful and hopeful place.

As a child growing up in Alabama, I was immersed in religion. My family attended an Episcopal church every Sunday. My mother was in the choir, my father was on the vestry, and I taught Sunday school. Our church could rightly be criticized as a place where people were too attentive to the cars their fellow parishioners were driving and not mindful enough of issues like poverty and hunger. But I had meaningful conversations with my Reverend about the virgin birth and whether Jonah was literally swallowed by a whale for three days. It was he who first pointed out to me that some of the Bible’s most controversial passages are subject to interpretation, particularly given the fact that what we read as English was once Greek, or Hebrew, or even Aramaic.

My maternal grandparents were Southern Baptists of the “love the sinner, hate the sin” variety with narrow, negative views on evolution, homosexuality, and the role of women. Yet they were the only people I knew who, in the Deep South, routinely welcomed Middle Easterners and Africans into their home for iced tea and pecan pie. The Christian Lebanese, Moroccan, Jordanian and Egyptian visitors who streamed through their house exposed me to new foods, music, and languages, and taught me a valuable lesson about how much we share in common.

I attended a Roman Catholic high school where I was baffled that even my most intelligent teachers insisted that the Pope was infallible; that as a non-Roman Catholic, I could not receive the Eucharist at Mass; and that my friends who were girls couldn’t acolyte at services. But the Jesuits’ passion for social justice was dazzling, and their commitment to the naked, the hungry, and the imprisoned living in the real world resulted in admirable acts of charity. I enjoyed many aspects of these different traditions. I loved the fact that my home church allowed me to ask questions about the historical Jesus, and I adored my maternal grandparents, who were so open to Christians who did not look or sound like them. Especially awe-inspiring was the fiery devotion of the Jesuits.

Thirty years later, I believe that St. Paul’s mixes the best parts of my religious upbringing, offering an intoxicating blend of faith, critical thinking, radical welcome, and devotion to social justice. For me, this is a necessary balm in a difficult world.

As a public defender providing criminal defense to the poor, I represent people at the margins of society. Most of my clients feel unworthy and unloved. The vast majority have suffered terrible abuse, violence, and neglect. More than once I have read a four-inch file documenting a client’s appalling childhood. I know that this does not excuse criminal behavior; a civil society cannot allow people who harm others to continue to do so regardless of their circumstances. However, as a person of faith I recognize that I, too, am flawed. I believe I am called to see Christ’s face in my clients, and to treat them with the dignity that all God’s children deserve. I also believe in redemption. I have seen change in some extraordinarily broken, despised people, who have walked away from lives of sickness and degradation and moved forward to lead loving, if imperfect, lives.

When I am weary, either from work or from life, worship at St. Paul’s restores my soul. It sends me into the world in peace, and grants me strength and courage to love and serve God with gladness (if not always singleness of heart.) I appreciate that St. Paul’s does not ask me to deny the pain and destruction I see in the world, nor does it promise a magic fix. Like the birth narrative in Matthew, St. Paul’s recognizes that there are sometimes very good reasons to be despondent, angry, or terrified. Still, we come together as a community to declare glory to God in the highest, and we promise to do our part to usher in a world of peace and good will, the hopeful message of St. Luke encouraging us on. This is why I love St. Paul’s and why I choose to be of service.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice one!
Ken FitzGerald