A Tribute to Molly O’Brien, CACS Administrative Coordinator

Relationships and hospitality are at the heart of the work of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies. We put our hearts, minds and prayers into equipping intercultural community, empowering intercultural leaders, and enriching Episcopal-Anglican identity.   At the core of these efforts for over 5 years has been Molly O’Brien, the Center’s Administrative Coordinator. Molly is moving on in January so this month’s Commentary is devoted to thanking her for all she has given to the Center and to Virginia Theological Seminary. Center Director Rev. Robert S. Heaney, Ph.D, D. Phil recently reflected on Molly’s contributions: “At the heart of the Center’s work is God’s call to deepen relationships across the Church and across the Communion. We cannot do that beyond the seminary if our departments within the Seminary are not relationally strong. Molly has responded with grace and skill to both aspects of our work together. She has been a blessing to this institution and a blessing to the Anglican Communion.” Molly started with the Center in 2015 and by the next year was organizing a Mollegen Forum with former US Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright. That year our theme was “Women in the Communion’ and Molly put together a particularly warm and engaging Saturday conversation on “Anglican women honoring native stories”. The academic year 2017-18 brought the celebration of the Center’s 20th anniversary and visits from the Presiding Bishop, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion as well as four sabbatical visitors and a 20th anniversary video!  Each successive year has brought more guests from around the world and for each and every one Molly has been the heart of our hospitality making complex arrangements, responding to inevitable changes with grace and poise, and sensitively ushering guests through their experience of VTS. Her service here at VTS has also involved advising and encouraging countless students in the planning of cross-cultural education programs. She believes firmly in the power of these programs to transform ministry and with her help that is exactly what has happened. Molly’s hospitality and cultural understanding have always been evident virtually as well. She has curated our daily Facebook posts for years selecting important and diverse stories from around the world to share with us all.  She has maintained important connections with alumni and sabbatical visitors. Starting this past spring as COVID changed our lives and continuing through to the present day, Molly’s skill in social media and in virtual programming has been essential in allowing the Center to continue to thrive. And, through her insightful and careful writing and editing in these Commentaries and in many other pieces, Molly has shared our stories. I could go on and on.  There has not been a program, publication or product that has come from the Center that Molly has not touched and strengthened.  It has been a privilege to work with Molly these last five years.  She has taught me many things and I will miss her humor, patience, reliability, insight, honesty and companionship.  I know many who are reading this have had the pleasure of getting to know Molly in person or on-line.  Please join me in thanking her for all her gifts and in sending her off with prayers and blessings on her next steps.

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