On April 30, 2017, the Rev. Michele H. Morgan was installed as the 12th Rector of St. Mark’s Capitol Hill. It was a joyous celebration, officiated by the Right Reverend Mariann Budde, Bishop of Washington.
Michele, the seventh of nine children, was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she learned her love of hockey and baseball. After growing up in a family that moved frequently, she made her own move to Minnesota to attend the College of St. Catherine. Following a long stint in retail management, she went to the General Seminary of the Episcopal Church in NYC. Arriving in New York in late August 2001, her call to serve the people of God was formed by many things, but most notably the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Michele served successfully in a number of churches in Minnesota, including Stillwater, St. Cloud, and Minneapolis, as a transitional rector helping congregations choose and live into new leadership. The work of parish ministry speaks to Michele’s soul. Not shy—in fact, possessing what she herself calls a “screaming extrovert” personality—she loves to connect people and help those within the parish, as well as those without, live into creating a deeper sense of community by doing justice work for all people.
Michele lives with her wife, Michelle Dibblee, and their rat terrier mix in Northeast DC. Her best day ever is to ride her bike while listening to her beloved Minnesota Twins as she dodges traffic, getting home in time to see the final couple of innings.
The Rev. Cindy Dopp was ordained on Sept. 30, 2017, at the National Cathedral, along with four other deacons. They are the first “class” of vocational deacons to be ordained in the Washington diocese, with more to follow over the next few years. A vocational deacon is a “permanent” role and not a step toward becoming a priest. Cindy’s part-time vocational work at St. Mark’s is unpaid and is carried out in tandem with her career as a chaplain. Cindy tells it (from an e-Gospel article in 2017):
“I work as an inpatient hospital chaplain at George Washington University Hospital. In addition, I am a chaplain for an outpatient palliative care clinic through an organization called George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health (GWIsh). GWish promotes the integration of spirituality and health care in various ways, including research studies, international conferences, and medical school education and training.
“I graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in 2011 with a Masters of Divinity. I am now in the midst of earning a Doctor of Ministry degree at Wesley.
“I have been an active member at St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in northwest DC for the past 27 years. While at St. C’s, I participated in a variety of ministries, including lay eucharistic ministry, healing, reading, adult education, and Stephen Ministry training and leadership. I also served on Senior Ministries and Pastoral Care committees and as a diocesan lay delegate.
“I have been married for 31 years to my husband, Michael. We have three children (James, Carolyn, and Peter) who are 30, 28, and 24 years old. They live in China, New York City, and Denver, respectively. We also have a highly anxious but loving dog named Benny.
“I look forward to meeting all of you and to being part of the wonderful community of St. Mark’s.”
The Rev. Patricia Catalano was born and raised in Colombia and has lived almost half of her life in the United States. She first lived in California, where she taught simultaneous translation in Monterey. This is where she became an Episcopalian and was later ordained to the priesthood. As a priest, she served in Menlo Park, Carmel, and Marina, California. She moved to Washington, D.C., in 2008.
Patricia has been actively working as a simultaneous interpreter since moving to DC but has had a renewed calling to serve as a priest at St. Mark’s, where she has been leading a Centering Prayer group since May 2018.
Patricia lives on Capitol Hill with her daughter and two grandsons.
The Rev. Christopher Phillips is excited to join St. Mark’s as Assistant Rector. He is committed to fostering strong and enduring relationships and sharing God’s joyful message of radical welcome. He is passionate about safe, sacred, and accepting spaces for worship, reflection, and spiritual growth.
Prior to coming to St. Mark’s, Christopher served as the Upper School Chaplain at an Episcopal day school in Maryland and as the Program Director for the Episcopal Church at Yale. Before pursuing his call to ordained ministry, he worked as a development officer for several major academic institutions.
Christopher received his A.B. in History from the University of Chicago and his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. He also earned a Certificate in Educational Leadership and Ministry and a Diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.
Joel was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He comes from a large family and is the seventh of eight children. He has been married to his spouse, Josh, for thirteen years. They love dogs and have a Corgi-Jack Russell mix named Pippin, who lives up to his namesake, and is a handful! One of Joel’s passions is gardening. Please feel free to ask him about it when you see him.
Before starting at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) in 2020, Joel worked in branch banking for more than 15 years and was the Director of Youth Ministry at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Saratoga, CA. Part of what helped him discern his calling to the priesthood was his experience in ministry. Joel is a certified Education for Ministry (EFM) mentor and is passionate about Christian education and formation. While he was attending EFM as a participant, he joined his parish’s jail ministry team, and served for three years co-facilitating an EFM program at Elmwood Jail.
Joel is looking forward to how he will be formed by the Holy Spirit through the people of St. Mark’s.
Jeff Kempskie has served St. Mark’s as Director of Music and organist since the fall of 2010. He directs the Chancel Choir, oversees the Boys & Girls Choir and Teen Choir, and manages all other aspects of the music program. In addition to his responsibilities at St. Mark’s, Jeff accompanies the University Singers at George Washington University, is a regular substitute countertenor at the Washington National Cathedral, sings with the Cantate Chamber Singers, and maintains a small piano studio.
Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Jeff taught choral music at the Eaglebrook School and Quabbin Regional Middle/High School while serving as organist or director of music at a variety of churches of different denominations—Unitarian Universalist, Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian—in Massachusetts and New York. He has been piano and organ accompanist for choirs at the Eastman School of Music, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition, Jeff has music-directed or played keyboard for nearly 60 musical theater productions.
He received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying conducting with Dr. E. Wayne Abercrombie. Jeff also earned a Master’s degree in Organ Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Dr. William Porter. Other significant teachers include Larry Schipull on organ and Kevin McGinty on piano.
Caleb Nelson Amaker, Director of Youth & Family Ministries
After serving as St. Mark’s Interim Director of Youth and Family Ministry since February 2019, Caleb Nelson Amaker was made Director of Youth and Family Ministries in April 2020. He is known to many at St. Marks as a parishioner, a Sunday School teacher, and a Christian educator. He worked at Shrine Mont as a youth conference director and a cabin director.
A lifelong Episcopalian, Caleb enjoys sharing his gifts, his joy, and his love of working with children and youth as a way of bringing more goodness and light into the world. He is deeply committed to making the faith journey and works with St. Mark’s children as they meaning within this faith community. He strives to help the children and teens of this parish grow up to be connected, compassionate adults with a faith story they can lean on and draw from.
Caleb’s main responsibilities include recruiting, convening, supervising, and contributing to teams of parishioners who plan and execute youth activities, events, outreach, and Sunday School classes; serving as St. Mark’s liaison to youth leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; completing administrative duties such as maintaining youth budget accounts, maintaining an online calendar of family and youth events, and tracking which parishioners and staff have completed diocesan sexual abuse prevention training.
James Rostron, Parish Administrator for Programs and Facilities
James is very happy to be making St. Mark’s the home of his new, second career after teaching middle and high school mathematics for 23 years at schools in D.C., Maryland, California, and Brazil. He has been involved with the Episcopal Church in various capacities for more than 25 years, including five years exploring a monastic vocation at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York, until December 2016. James enjoys hiking, traveling, music, and discovering new things. He is glad to be back in DC, near family and friends, and combining his love of the church and of keeping things organized.
As Parish Administrator, James handles space use contracts and reservations, keeps the parish calendar updated, prints the weekly bulletins and announcements, and manages office-related accounts payable and the office equipment.
Katherine grew up in Oregon and has lived in D.C. for seven years. She has worked as an advocate and organizer for peace, economic and racial equity, and climate stability. When not at St. Mark’s, Katherine manages a house for the Church of the Brethren Volunteer Corps, sings in a social justice a cappella choir, and seeks to become more healthy and aligned with divine purpose.
The youngest of children may be placed in the loving and attentive care of Deborah Cunningham during worship services on Sunday mornings and one-Sunday-month during the 5 p.m. service. Deborah has been providing Nursery Care at St. Mark’s for many years and is a valued and valuable member of the team!