You at Tree of Life have welcomed me into your beloved community with open and loving arms and I am so grateful to be here.
You may be wondering how it is that I came to be here and to be on this long and winding path to ministry. I did not start out on this path; actually, I started the path about eight years ago when I was offered a free college course as part of my job. I had a father who continually told me that I was just not smart enough for college and after a number of years, I believed him. When I was offered this free class, I took it never intending to pass. I did pass and passed with flying colors, so I took another one just to be sure and passed that one as well. From there I enrolled at McHenry County College where I did my first two years and started to gain confidence.
I have always had a love of religion of any type be it Christian, Jewish or “cults.” The different belief systems and how they intertwine has always fascinated me and so I entered American Public University seeking a bachelor’s degree in Religion. While working on that, I began looking forward to a new career. I knew that I wanted to help people in some way and I was strongly looking to work with the families of Alzheimer’s patients to help them to understand what their loved ones were going through and how they could adjust their lives to accommodate the changes.
As I began to look for a Master’s program that would take me where I wanted to go I just couldn’t find the right school and the right program. Frustrated, I knelt down in prayer one night and when I woke up to continue the search all that would come up were seminaries. So far from what I was thinking, so “not me,” I thought.
I finished my bachelor’s degree in June and started classes at Meadville Lombard in September and never looked back. Although I was sure I was going to be a Community Minister with a focus on Social Justice that quickly changed when I had my first taste of parish ministry. So, here I am, spending time with you and learning so much from Rev. Sean. Next year will be the year that I will take all that I have learned and launch into a congregation of my own.
Ja Rickard, Intern Minister