Stowe Away

The Rev. Rick Swanson

My best friend from my seminary days was just called to be the rector of St. John’s in the Mountains in Stowe, Vermont. I encourage all of my clergy friends to accept calls to resort towns so that I can visit. It’s not working too well for me but this is a step in the right direction.

The Rev. Rick Swanson (who is also Ben’s godfather) has had a pretty varied vocational life to this point — he served as curate at a parish in California wine country, was an associate priest at a large church in Morristown, New Jersey, was the part-time rector for  4 1/2 years at a small church in Dowagiac, Michigan, and will be moving to Stowe next month.
Along the way he’s had some challenges but he has always remained faithful, above all else, to God’s call. Rick is a man of prayer, someone who has wrestled for years with a call to monastic life, though in the end he discerned that God was calling him to remain a parish priest. His new parishioners will be lucky — they’re getting a priest who loves Jesus Christ and is passionate about making God known through divine liturgy. He’s a creative, compelling, and thoughtful preacher and, more importantly given his new locale, he likes snow.
Being a native Minnesotan will do that to you I guess. He was also on the US Junior World speedskating team but he likes to keep that information under a bushel for some reason. So I always take great joy in telling people this and watching Rick blush. We put Rick’s speed to good use at seminary. He was the running back for our flag football team at Seabury-Western and we nearly beat the boys at Nashotah House in the annual Lavabo Bowl. This was quite the moral victory since they were all big young guys from the Diocese of Fort Worth (who else goes there these days?).
I wish Rick the best in the days ahead — I know the emotional energy it takes to leave a congregation. But I also know the excitement of being faithful to the call process. And the bunny hills of Stowe better be prepared to receive the Schenck family. We’re animals on those things.

12 Comments on “Stowe Away”

  1. Patrick Ward says:

    Nashotah not Nashota !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Father Tim says:

    Fine. I fixed it just for you.

  3. Barbara Baxter says:

    Congratulations to Rick! It sounds as though he and his new parish will thrive together.

    On a side note, Tim, courtesy the “Lavabo Bowl” mention (love it!) — I think you and I have retained a stereotype about Nashotah House based on its reputation as being blatantly misogynistic. I was surprised and delighted to learn from a new (female) Nashotah grad that the culture and politics have changed dramatically for the better in recent years. Women are now welcomed, not shunned or abused; their ministries are supported, and yes, they assist, officiate, preach and celebrate in the Chapel. The Diocese of Fort Worth is not Nashotah’s only source of students, though in the days of Bishop Pope (!) it seemed to be.

    I’ve heard tales of the “old” Nashotah House from professors who taught there, as well as several female graduates who studied there during the “I’d rather see a monkey celebrate the Holy Mysteries than see a woman at the altar” days. (That invective was spat at me during my discernment process in Fort Worth, revealing a lot about prevailing heresies, which, of course, live on.)

    Thanks for this post about Rick. Keep your skis ready!

  4. Father Tim says:

    Good to hear this, Barbara. It certainly was a different place 10 years ago. I know some wonderful priests who came out of Nashotah a generation or two ago.

  5. Barbara Baxter says:

    I, too, know some fine priests from Nashotah, including some female grads from the 80’s, and some profs at Bexley Hall (post-Ohio/pre-Rochester bust-up). Perhaps our seminaries (if they survive) can promote reconciliation within our Church.

  6. Hooray for Rick! Tell him I said hi and that it will be good to have him back in the Northeast (I know him from his days in New Jersey).

  7. Heather Barta says:

    I didn’t realize that Rick was leaving MI – how funny, just clicked on a random link! (Not that I’ve seen him for years…) Hope he has fun!

  8. Tim, thanks for blogging about this. Those of us who have had the honor of knowing and working with Rick are (if I may presume to say so) pleased and excited for this new opportunity for him. And yes, the snow will be a definite bonus feature!

  9. sue von rautenkranz says:

    Truer words could not be said – thanks for sharing the link in an email. I do have to admit that I am prejudiced when it comes to Rick and his many gifts. Most importantly his faithfulness and love of Jesus Christ (and snow)!
    We also agree on the fun we have at bragging about his skating days – it does make him blush.

  10. David says:

    Good news that Rick will be in this part of the country- many blessings on him and his new parish! Now- I might point out that in an earlier age, SWTS never lost the Lavabo Bowl. Even when the Nashota Lilies had Michael Ramsey cheering them on from the sidelines, we still managed to win. Clearly the decline and fall- and final fading away of SWTS- had begun in your days. And to think they took the stanza, “change and decay in all around I see” out of # 662 in the hymnal.

  11. Phyllis Stevenson Fowlkes says:

    Very engaging blog. Found it by doing a Google search on the new priest our parish has called to serve as interim, Father Patrick Ward. Impression so far: Ability to turn a delightfully Robertson Davies -esque writer/bloger into a dark Scott Adams. Oh, and can you also fix the shift key on his laptop, it appears to stick on the number “1” key. Keep on writing and worry not, come June 17th he will be our own editor-grammarian cum interim priest here in da boogie down Bronx at Christ Church Riverdale where he can exclaim until his heart is content.

  12. Father Tim says:

    Enjoy Patrick, Phyllis. He’s a great guy and an engaging priest!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s