Kathryn Banakis ’09 M.Div.
B.A. Yale University 2003
I came to divinity school unsure of what the result would be. My life plans tend to be firm but flexible. I was five or six majors in college. As a lobbyist for municipal governments in Washington, DC after college, I developed a working knowledge of everything from mortgages to water purification to the merits of various airport runway materials. I applied to law schools and div schools at the same time, not sure which program I’d do first and how I’d end up, and during my three years of divinity school I’ve considered going back to law school and continuing in academic religious study for a PhD in social ethics. Had anyone told me that in three years I’d fall madly in love with church and community work, I wouldn’t have believed her. But that’s where I am.
My background as an Episcopalian with a strong interest and investment in the arts made Yale/Berkeley/the Institute of Sacred Music an easy fit. I came to Yale for the academics but stayed because of the worshipping community. Daily worship in the ecumenical and Anglican traditions led by world-class musicians and liturgists fueled my spirit and sense of the Spirit. Perhaps only at Yale would a week of worship include photographs taken at the infamous Cabrini Green housing project, panels from the AIDS quilt, Anglo-Catholic evensong, readings from Anne Sexton/Paula Vogel/Langston Hughes, and music from the dijuridu. Two to three times a day I could worship in an experimental laboratory of the best and most unique of worship styles from around the world.
YDS/BDS/ISM provided opportunities for travel beyond anything I’d envisioned coming in. I’ve taken Yale-sponsored trips to the former Yugoslavia to study how the religious arts have been impacted by war; a pilgrimage to Canterbury to investigate the roots of Anglican spirituality; and to the Dominican Republic as I came to terms with my understanding of just what ‘mission’ means. The strong relationship between Yale University in general but in particular between the YDS library and Overseas Ministries Study Center, especially with Asian Christianity, has provided a unique flavor to my time three years as well.
In my practicum internship at a small local country parish I became enamored with clergy work and community life and began seeking ordination. It’s still a ways off but as with the best things in life the journey is the goal. For now I’m going to employ the skills YDS/BDS/ISM has equipped me with in communication and critical thinking at a small, innovative education non-profit in Northern California. I’ll be trying to make the kingdom on earth come just a little faster.