As of Friday, November 16, 2018
Kelly Mahon is glad to be in Hood River — and at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in particular.
“I’m happy to have landed at a healthy neighborhood parish, where the people take care of each other,” Mahon, 32, said Wednesday.
It’s been a whirlwind six months: He graduated from Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, in May with a Master of Divinity. In June, he was hired by the St. Mark’s search committee as their new rector. He moved to Hood River and began work Aug. 15, and was installed as rector on Sept. 23 by Bishop Pat Bell, Diocese of Eastern Oregon.
Mahon’s ordination into the priesthood — he is currently a deacon — will be on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m., with a reception to follow.
St. Mark’s has been without a rector for two years, since Rev. Anna Carmichael left to become Cannon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of San Joaquin in California.
“The Bishop of Eastern Oregon is an alumnus (of Seminary of the Southwest). He was looking for candidates to send to the search team from all over,” Mahon said. “He was in Austin in May and started the process. He kind of found me, which was humbling and sweet, and recommended my name to the search committee. They interviewed me the week after that.”
Mahon grew up in San Diego, Calif., and is a life-long Episcopalian. He graduated from Chapman University with a degree in fine arts in 2008. Before entering the seminary, he worked as a youth leader in Episcopal churches in San Diego — his first foray into thinking about ordained ministry, he said. Since coming to St. Mark’s, he’s been focusing on getting to know the community and the scope of programs parishioners are involved in, such as Gorge Ecumenical Ministries (GEM) and the Emergency Voucher Program.
While he’d been to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, he’d never visited Hood River before his interview.
“I’m really happy to be here — I got here and it’s pretty obvious why people like living here and are enthusiastic about living here in the Gorge,” he said.
He’s been enjoying small town life “in the best sense of the word,” he said. “I live a mile away (from the church). It’s awesome.”
He also appreciates being near the Columbia and Hood rivers. “Being in California, any sort of water is life-giving,” he explained. “… Being in the Gorge is good for my blood pressure.”
One added note: He’s also enjoying the local Mexican food scene.
“Being from San Diego, I know what real Mexican food is,” he said. In Texas, Mexican food meant Tex-Mex — not authentic.
“When I came here and ate at Lake Taco, I was like, ‘Oh, thank God!’”