I think this is the way I will remember Teresa+: face red from standing on the corner of Grand and Arsenal in February, ashes smudged on her forehead, still in her Jobs with Justice hoodie. It was Ash Wednesday, 2015, and we had just wrapped up our Ashes to Go celebration outside on a very frigid day. The photo says so much about her.
The Rev. Teresa K.M. Danieley is leaving St. John’s after 12 years of service. When she arrived here as a newly ordained priest, the parish was nearly dead, with about a dozen adult members. Today it has a couple hundred members on its roles.
She and The Little Parish That Could created a weekly free meal program, attracted the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s organization to house their headquarters in the parish basement, hosts five different 12-step groups, hosts the La Leche’ League for young mothers, became a Faith Out Loud parish for the LGBTQ community, established Godly Play, book clubs, bible studies, Fight for $15, Jobs with Justice, and a parish that sponsors clergy candidates for their field ed experience in this leaky, old beehive called St. John’s. (I was one of them.) And then there are all the Sunday services, holidays, weddings, funerals, and worship of a normal Episcopal parish to add to this list.
As our bishop has said, St. John’s footprint in the community of Tower Grove is much larger than the boundaries of its church grounds. Its footprint is due primarily to its rector, Mother Teresa.
But, as the prophet has written, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Teresa+ celebrates her last Eucharist at St. John’s this Easter Day, for she is stepping down from the position of rector and moving on to the next chapter in her priestly life. Her effect upon the lives of so many of us can hardly be measured, but we are all deeply in her debt. We wish her God’s speed and many blessings in her continued journey of faith. Pax, dear Teresa+. See you at MoKaBe’s sometime!