Chris Exley with his Discernment Committee L-R: Abby Reynolds, Caroline Ketchum, Chris Exley, Sarah Gregg, and Jay Nolan (Reggie Upshaw was out of town)

Last Sunday, May 12, St. Mary’s hosted a reception in Paca Hall after our 9:00 a.m. worship for Christopher (Chris) Exley, who first came to our parish as a middler seminarian in 2017. Special thanks to Chris’ Discernment Committee for providing feedback and support during his two-year relationship with St. Mary’s.

The Discernment Committee organized his “Godspeed” reception, conveying our prayers and well-wishes as he continues his spiritual path towards priesthood. At the reception, his Committee presented a handmade stole featuring sheep, in hopeful anticipation of Chris’ ordination as a deacon. (The stole is a vestment that marks recipients of Holy Orders.)

Chris will be ordained on Sat., June 8, in the Diocese of Philadelphia  His ordination to the diaconate will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Sat., June 8 at Philadelphia Episcopal Church Cathedral,19th Street South and 38th Street, Philadelphia, PA  19104.

If you’d like to stay in touch with him, call St. Mary’s Parish Office at 703-527-6800 or email for Chris’ forwarding address and contact information.

Following is a note from Chris Exley to St. Mary’s.

Dear Friends in Christ,  

When I arrived in the fall of 2017, I was determined to make this my church home.  In the swirl and confusion of seminary life and being geographically separated from my family, I needed an anchor for my spiritual life.  You have provided that place to me with grace to spare.  You didn’t treat me as someone who was just going to leave in a couple of years but instead you brought me in and made me one of you. 

St. Mary’s is an amazing parish.  Your commitment to Jesus Christ is evidenced by your worship, your love of each other and your love of the community—especially by your care and feeding of wayward seminarians.  I would be remiss if I didn’t lift up my Lay Committee:  Caroline Ketchum (Chair), Sarah Gregg, Abigail Reynolds, Jay Nolan, and Reggie Upshaw.  They have shepherded me through these last two years, and I would have been really lost without them.  I thank Mother Amy and Fr. Chris for their gracious and patient response to all my questions and mistakes.  Fr. Andrew is a remarkable mentor and supervisor; I am deeply indebted to him for his guidance and wisdom. 

Friends, I am incredibly thankful that I have been able to walk alongside you.  A mere “thank you” can never express the depth of my gratitude for this beautiful community.  Please know that the people of St. Mary’s will be in my heart and in my prayers wherever God calls me to serve.  I won’t say “goodbye,” but instead, “see you later.”  Whether in this world or the next, I know that we will be reunited again.  May God continue to bless you.  I love you all.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

In Christ,

Chris Exley