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Times Like These — Senior Leslie Deslauriers

As my time at McCormick draws to a close, I can’t help but think about my journey from the first day I walked in the doors to now. There were a lot of moments where I wanted to quit or where I cried or when I felt like I just could not read another theology book but I did it. I did it all! I opened my heart and mind to allowing God to change me in ways that I would never have known to expect. Not only do I leave McCormick with a more clear understanding of my call but I leave McCormick more fulfilled and closer to God than I have been my entire life.

I remember when I first saw how many Bible and theology classes I would be taking and I was pretty intimidated. I felt that it was too many. As I leave, I feel that I have merely scratched the surface and I am craving more knowledge. I have been looking towards graduation day since my first day at McCormick and now, I am desperately seeking a time-turner (Harry Potter reference-google it) so that I can lengthen these final days. The most formative part of my time at McCormick was during my field site. I was able to incorporate so much of my learning into my work and it was the most incredible feeling watching everything I had worked for become a reality.

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Leslie on the 2016 J-Term seminar in India

When I first came to McCormick, I thought I was going to do college ministry—on a college campus. My Presbytery had different plans for me when it came time to pick a field site. I was crushed that I would not get the chance to work on a college campus as a chaplain because I felt sure that God had called me to that work. After a day or two of grumbling, I decided to interview at Second Presbyterian Church in the South Loop. They were close to my apartment, they were diverse, and they were traditional. I didn’t realize it but I had been craving a small traditional worship service since I moved and my prayers were being answered.

I began working at Second Presbyterian Church in September of 2014. It look a few weeks for me to gain the confidence to make suggestions or ask questions about the church policy when it came to things like committees and communion. Rev. Dr. David Neff took me under his wing immediately and began immersing me in the “business of the church” by having me attend every meeting and bible study possible. I also began immediately participating in worship services whether it was reading liturgy or writing my own prayers. After a couple of months, I began to feel like I had found my home.

If it had not been for this congregation and specifically for David, I would never have had the confidence to believe how I felt God was speaking to me. I found my preaching voice and I was able to explore areas of church work that I never knew I would enjoy. I was able to teach, preach, meet, and pray with so many people during my field site and I was able to see a different side of God that I had merely dreamed about before. It was during this time that I felt confirmed in my call in a way that no friend, family member, classmate, or mentor could have told me. I needed to see for myself that I was worthy to be a minister.

Leaving McCormick, I hope that I have made an impact on the students, staff, and faculty because they have each made an impact on my life. I have been affirmed in my call and as a person by so many people in this journey. I have seen heartache and grief so strong that it rocked the entire community then I have seen the entire community band together to hold one another up. The deepest places of our despair are not deep enough for some of the people I have met at McCormick; their love knows no bounds and I am confident in my faith because people like that will be out there preaching and teaching and working in churches and for non-profits. My life will never be the same and I am so glad!

Snapchat-2417254696436482111Leslie Deslauriers is a senior in the McCormick Masters of Divinity Program seeking ordination in the PCUSA.  She currently serves at Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago.