Program: St. Hilda's House
Location: New Haven, CT
Director: Robert Hendrickson
Web Site: www.sainthildashouse.org
St. Hilda's House is a ten-month residential young adult discernment program devoted to spiritual formation and urban ministry while living in community. It is sponsored by Christ Church New Haven in partnership with Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University. Interns live at either the former rectory at Christ Church or in apartments near Ascension House and Ascension Church in the Hill neighborhood.
"St. Hilda's House is a program that encourages interns to put their faith into action; it encourages both intellectual study and service to the community." - Caleb Bennetch ('11)
The unique setting, in the heart of Yale University and New Haven, gives interns access to a diverse range of service, educational, and spiritual resources.
Interns serving with Saint Hilda's House for the year will be part of two communities. The first is the parish community of Christ Church and the second is the evolving community at Ascension House.
Saint Hilda's interns who live at Ascension will have the unique opportunity to be part of not only new worship at Ascension, which is a church plant mission of Christ Church in a neighborhood that other churches have abandoned, but forging a new relationship with our neighbors there through community action, engagement, and relationships. The New Haven Register recently did a story on Ascension which can be read here.
Christ Church New Haven
Christ Church is an Anglican-Catholic parish of the Episcopal Church, founded in response to the Oxford Movement’s call to renew the true catholicity of the Church Universal, Christ's body in the world. We seek to remain true to that legacy, drawing upon two millennia of liturgical tradition in our worship, while also striving to keep ourselves open to the further unfolding of the Church’s catholicity in our time.
The Dean of the Cathedral in Atlanta recently preached about his time at Christ Church and said, "The truth is that Christ Church really did clothe the naked and feed the hungry and welcome the stranger. It was a beautiful thing. As much as our liturgy might have seemed serenely removed from the troubling and messy life of the world, the work of the people really did include an aggressive ministry with the poor. Ephesians 1:22-23 was written on the church literature, “the church, which is his body;” but the daily parish life lived out Matthew 25: “I was poor and you gave me something to eat, something to drink, something to wear; I was a stranger and you welcomed me, in prison and you visited me."
Service at Saint Hilda's
To help address poverty, lack of education, lack of affordable housing, food insecurity, and so many other issues, you will be working in programs such as the Community Soup Kitchen, Columbus House, Loaves and Fishes, the United Way of Greater New Haven, New Haven Reads, AIDS Project New Haven, and Saint Martin DePorres Academy.
Formation at Saint Hilda's
Friends and family may wonder why you are thinking of committing yourself to a year of service and "poverty" instead of just heading into the job market! Leadership is more than skills (though you will learn some) and it is more than starting in on the ground floor of the place you want to work for in the future. Christian leadership is marked by faithful integrity, vision, joy, and abiding strength as we grow in witness to the love of God in Christ.
Your time at Saint Hilda's is marked by regular daily prayer, theological reflection with some of the finest scholars in their fields, spiritual direction as individuals and as a group, house meetings with mentors, individual mentoring, close contact with supervisors in your work sites, and more.
We view formation here as being the combined result of prayer, service, and worship entered with an open heart and dedicated spirit. Most of all we view this as a time of joyful exploration into who it is God is calling you to be.
Interns grow through living with other Christians while trying to practice the ancient ways of the faith intentionally, including eating and praying together. This communal lifestyle is counter-cultural, and in some ways monastic. Through this experience, interns come to a deep understanding of how their actions affect others. Communal living is an attempt to live out Jesus' commandment to love neighbor as self in a literal and intentional way.
Is this about Evangelism?
Absolutely. Not in the way you might think though. S. Francis famously said “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Your actions will preach the gospel.
By simple living, community action, participation in worship, and deep questioning you will be preaching a vibrant gospel message that will make your very living during this time a sermon as eloquent as any that can be heard.
This is evangelism by relationship and you are sharing a message of hope, love, and charity.
Added November, 2010: Solemn High Mass and Inauguration of Saint Hilda's with the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori - click here to view photos