Getting to Know You - An Interview with Aaron Leonard
When Mother Erika suggested this assignment, it sounded both interesting and challenging. Interesting to talk to different people, including ones I didn’t know well. Challenging to try to give a sense of who they are. Perhaps the most challenging aspect was conveying in my words just how interesting the conversation turned out to be. I didn’t have an extensive list of questions. I figured they would come to mind. I did however have 2 basic questions in mind. One was suggested by one of my past French teachers. At a social gathering the French would not ask: “What is your occupation?” That was considered trying to categorize people. Rather, they would ask: What is your passion? So that was one of the questions. The other one was something that always intrigues me. Could you give me your philosophy of life in 25 words or less? And they did.- Helen Lambin
Meet Aaron Leonard, if you haven’t already. Aaron is Communication Coordinator at Church of the Atonement. His role includes collecting information for weekly e-mails; social media, e.g. Facebook, and Instagram; and maintaining the website. In his words: keeping people in the Loop
Aaron grew up in Cincinnati, which he described as a beautiful small city – a city he loves. He also loves Chicago, although he finds our winters something to get used to. Indeed. Aaron moved here because his wife Chassity took a job teaching English at North Lawndale College Prep. Aaron and Chassity reside in Ukrainian Village, an interesting and diverse community they enjoy.
Aaron attended Cincinnati Christian University and received a degree in Biblical Studies and Humanities. He attended seminary for two years and at one time was planning to be a minister. And as he says, still, maybe… He is presently working on a master’s degree in counseling at Northwestern University, and he hopes to get a job in counseling to help bridge the gap between church ministry and helping those with mental health problems.
This fit with his answer to one of my two standard questions: what is your passion? He is passionate about connecting people. Whether it's through the work he does here at Atonement or in a clinical setting: he is passionate about helping people connect.
Among his hobbies are visiting museums, music, singing, and playing guitar. Aaron and Chassity have a dog, a black lab about six years old, adopted four years ago. Having a rescue says a lot about them to many of us devoted pet people. He named the dog Barth. Yes, after Karl. Dogmatic, I commented. (I couldn’t help myself.)
Aaron grew up non-denominational Evangelical and was very active as a youth and in college. His mother was a long-time active youth minister, whose work he admired. But he could not understand why women could not be ordained to the ministry. It was sometime later when Aaron attended an Episcopal service, and in his words was blown away by the liturgy. He remained after to speak with the priest about his challenges, beliefs, and questions. Her response was: maybe you are an Episcopalian. (A very appropriate sort of Episcopal response, it seems.) And now he is. Aaron and Chassity were married in December in Cincinnati by the same priest.
My second basic question is: what is your philosophy of life in about twenty-five words or so? This answer, he said, was longer. And rightly so. His guiding philosophy, he said, is based on the beautiful prayer of St. Francis, the prayer beginning “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”