Dean’s Letter: Sabbatical Plans

Hello St. Paul’s,

As you may know, Episcopal clergy are expected to take periodic breaks for rest and renewal, to enable us to recover from the particular stress of our vocation. This time is known as a sabbatical leave, and is in addition to our regular vacation allotment. Our diocesan policy calls for clergy to accrue two weeks of sabbatical leave for each year of service to a congregation. Sabbatical leave may be taken after three years, although most clergy wait until six of seven years have passed, in order to take a longer and more productive break. The usual sabbatical leave is for two to four months. Sometimes it involves a project to learn a new skill, do focused research, or create something such as a book; but it is primarily intended to be a time of refreshment, allowing the cleric to return with new energy and a renewed sense of mission. It is also beneficial to the congregation, as it often provides opportunities for lay people to step up into leadership.

I have now served St. Paul’s for nine years. I planned a sabbatical leave for early 2020, and I began it at the end of February with a month in Costa Rica, to strengthen my Spanish skills, with the aim of becoming a more effective pastor for our Spanish-speaking parishioners. However, two weeks in, COVID descended upon the world and I was called back to San Diego and St. Paul’s. You know how the next three years unfolded.

Now that the pandemic has wound down and church life is back to “normal” (not that life at St. Paul’s is ever “normal”!), I am once again preparing to take sabbatical leave. At the end of April I will travel to Washington DC to participate in the annual North American Deans’ Conference, of which I am currently the convener. At the end of the conference on April 30, I will begin my sabbatical leave. This time around my focus is on rest and connection with family. I will spend a week with my son and grandson in Washington DC, then two weeks in Scotland with my siblings; I then take a week-long cruise on the Danube before returning to Washington for more Granny time. I will return to San Diego in early June and will spend time playing chamber music, continuing to practice Spanish, and enjoying all the blessings of living in San Diego, before returning to work on July 5, just in time for Light Up the Cathedral for Pride on July 12.

This is a relatively short sabbatical leave but I believe it will provide me with the time I need to recharge and refresh. I will not be in touch with parishioners during this time, and our wonderful staff and lay leaders will keep things going at St. Paul’s: you won’t even notice that I’m gone. I am working on lining up guest preachers so that Canon Richard Hogue will not have an extra burden, especially as he will be spending a significant amount of his time on the major gifts campaign for the new choir room. Our wardens will be on hand to support the staff and preside over Chapter meetings; lay leaders will cover Morning Prayer; the Dean’s Breakfast will continue as usual. I will be informed of any major events such as the death of a parishioner or a serious facility disaster.

I am deeply grateful to Chapter and to all of you for allowing me this time away and for providing some additional funds for my travel.

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3 thoughts on “Dean’s Letter: Sabbatical Plans”

  1. Isten hozot! (God has brought!)

    While you are cruising on the Danube, think of me who was born in Budapest!



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