Interim church leader aims to feed people, both physically and spiritually

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By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer

Mary Rosendale
Photo/submitted

Westborough – Religion has always been an important part of Mary Rosendale’s life. In fact, she calls herself a “cradle” Episcopalian, meaning, as she said, “born and raised in the Episcopal Church.” 

Attending church was a big part of her childhood growing up in Grand Junction, Colo.  

“I loved the community that came with church,” she said. “I was surrounded by loving people my entire childhood.”  

Rosendale knew what she wanted to do early in life.  

“I told my mom when I was seven years old that after college I was going to Africa,” said Rosendale. And she did just that, volunteering in a Ugandan orphanage soon after graduation. She then attended Virginia Theological Seminary, obtaining a master’s degree in divinity and was ordained when she was 26. She continues on that same path today as interim priest at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Westborough. 

“I try to live a life that is evident of my faith,” she noted. 

Rosendale, 31, who is a mother of two young children, began as interim priest at St. Stephen’s in August.  

“I came to Westborough to help St. Stephen’s discern who they are called to be as they call their next rector,” she explained.  

Knowing their position is temporary may be concerning for some, but that’s not the case for Rosendale.  

“I knew from the beginning that I’d be at St. Stephen’s for about a year and after this year is over, I have no plans yet, but am waiting to see where God is calling me next,” she said.

An important part of her role as a faith leader is to help others make sense of the world.  

“Right now, with COVID, a lot has changed and in a lot of ways; it is difficult times,” she remarked. “The church is uniquely positioned to help make sense of the world and in all things show the love of God by loving our neighbor. I am trying to remember that perfection is not the goal, even in, and especially in, the imperfect, holiness lies.”  

This belief has formed her guiding philosophy.

“It may not be perfect,” said Rosendale, “but it is holy. I think this pandemic has affected people tremendously. This pandemic is awful and has taken so much from so many people. It has also been a backdrop to the racial injustices in our country. For me, as a person of faith, COVID has brought to the forefront all the things that cannot be ignored. COVID has propelled me to greater action to address the disparities in our country.” 

Locally, she is looking forward to what St. Stephen’s can do: “I would love to give back to the community even more than we already do.”