Omaha, why Omaha?
Greetings! My name is Alyse Viggiano and I hail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Interesting fact,I am a triplet. So I have a sister and a brother who are my age and both currently attend WestVirginia University. I attended college at John Carroll University, in Cleveland Ohio, andgraduated with a degree in Marketing and minors in Philosophy and Entrepreneurship.
Prior to college, I was very involved in my parish in Pittsburgh, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I was apart of the youth group, went on several mission trips to Charleston, South Carolina, and was an Acolyte (which is similar to alter serving). At that time, being apart of the worship service and serving others was something I was passionate about, and still so to this day. Two older priests, who truly embody what it means to serve people, noticed these passions within me, and asked me to consider the priesthood. During high school, I didn’t consider myself prepared to take on a vocation in the church. I wasn’t mature enough to handle difficult situations that would plague a congregation, preach the gospel, or give wise advice to others. Ultimately, I didn’t dismiss the idea, I simply set it aside for later. In the fall of 2009, I went off to John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.
While at college, I studied marketing, entrepreneurship, and philosophy. In the spring of 2011, I studied abroad in London, England for a semester. Before going abroad, I began working at a little unknown coffee shop on campus. While at the coffee shop, I showed an enthusiasm for making smoothies, and was asked to become student manager of the coffee shop. I took the position, although reluctantly because I had no experience with coffee (I was strictly a tea drinker). But after diving head first into the coffee world, I had a newly found thirst to learn everything about coffee, coffee shops, and the atmosphere they convey. In the fall of 2011, I implemented everything I had learned about coffee and espresso, and began making chocolate chip cookies for the coffee shop, which changed names to The Cubby. When I first started at The Cubby, it barely did $100 a week in sales, by the end of spring 2013, my senior year, we hit record sales of $723 in ONE night. The Cubby was my life, the support and community that surrounded it was growing, and I didn’t want to leave it. It was hard to let go of the reins, but The Cubby wasn’t truly mine, and I was graduating, which meant I had to move on. I was passionate about making cookies and other baked goods, pouring lattes and coffee, but ultimately, I was more intrigued by the development of the community that begun to surround The Cubby. So at the end of four years, I had a college degree in hand, but I had a question to answer, what do I do now?
I took a step back and asked myself the question, “If I were to die tomorrow, what would I regret now doing?”. I earned a degree in marketing with minors in Philosophy and Entrepreneurship (check), I ran a coffee shop (check), I baked a ton of cookies, muffins, scones (check), I had been doing something I was passionate about. The answer that felt right was to explore that call of priesthood. But how to do it?
Through the Episcopal Service Corps. I found the program in Omaha called the Resurrection house coordinated by Jason Emerson. It is a 9 month program where 50% of my time will be in an Episcopal church, 25% will be at a non-profit, and the other 25% will be spent on spiritual development. Starting August 31st until May 19th, I will be in Omaha, Nebraska exploring this option.
I don’t know what will happen by the end of May. I am letting the chips fall as the may, which is much harder than I anticipated. I am anxious and nervous for what lies ahead, but I am listening and staying open to what the future holds. At John Carroll, I worked on a project with two of my closest friends which we called Polis after the perfect community that Aristotle created. The tag line for the project was cultivating community through coffee, collaboration, and community. I use that same tag line for my own goals with a slightly different tilt. My mission is to cultivate community through food, conversation, and spirituality. How I will do this, I do not know. But after completing this year of service, prayer, and discernment, I can only hope to be closer to understanding what it means to cultivate community through food, conversation, and spirituality.