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The Rev. Sean T. Leonard was installed as the church’s seventh rector by The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop Diocesan, on October 5 at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church. Clergy from the Charles River Deanery, Diocese of Massachusetts and neighboring churches in Dover joined in the celebration. Bishop Gates presided over the service and was assisted by his chaplain, Rev. Deacon Holly Hartman. Parishioners of all ages participated in the service to formally welcome Rev. Leonard and officially name him rector of the church.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be joining such a vibrant community of faith,” said Rev. Leonard. “I am looking forward to discovering what God has next for St. Dunstan’s.”
Rev. Leonard’s first day was August 1, and he has jumped right into his role as rector, leading Sunday worship, meeting with parishioners, and participating in the church’s Vacation Bible School held in August.
“We are thrilled to have Father Sean as our new rector, and he comes to St. Dunstan’s at an exciting time,” said Linda Eason, senior warden of the St. Dunstan’s Vestry. “We are beginning our 50th Anniversary celebration, which runs September 2016 through October 2017, and many of our ministries are growing. We’ll look to Father Sean to help guide us as we journey forward together.”
Rev. Leonard brings a wealth of experience to St. Dunstan’s. At past parishes, he has led Christian Formation and youth programs, congregational development programs, a capital campaign, and outreach efforts, as well as providing pastoral care and helping parishes grow ministries. These are key areas that are important to St. Dunstan’s, as was the parish’s hope of finding a rector who would “walk with us in our ministries.”
However, the Search Committee said the strongest thing Rev. Leonard brings to St. Dunstan’s is his deep faith and spiritualty, which he is able to share with parishioners, helping them connect to God, their own faith, and one another.
“Father Sean has the experience, leadership style and spirituality that match the needs and desires of our parish,” added Eason. “We feel he is the best priest to lead St. Dunstan’s, and we are delighted he answered our call.”
St. Dunstan’s called Rev. Leonard in April after a 15-month search process, during which the Search Committee reviewed and interviewed applicants from across the country. The Search Committee made its recommendation to the Vestry, which agreed and unanimously voted to call Rev. Leonard as the church’s seventh rector. During the search process, St. Dunstan’s was served by interim priests and its lay leadership.
Rev. Leonard comes to St. Dunstan’s from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Orchard Park, NY, where he served as rector for eight years. A native of Massachusetts, Rev. Leonard is excited to be back in his home state, where he is closer to family; he can also now cheer on his favorite sports teams without the good-natured teasing he endured at St. Mark’s, which was located just miles from the Buffalo Bills’ stadium.
Prior to serving at St. Mark’s, Rev. Leonard was the Assistant to the Rector at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in York, PA, and before that, he was a Seminarian at Trinity Episcopal Church in Arlington, VA.
Rev. Leonard received his Masters in Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA, and his Bachelor of Science is from Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA. He and his wife, Chrishelle, a school psychologist, live in Norfolk with their children, Alexis and Caden.