The Holden Village Podcast

Cecie Suknaic Saulnier

July 14, 2023 Dev Bach
The Holden Village Podcast
Cecie Suknaic Saulnier
Show Notes Transcript

Cecie Suknaic Saulnier (she/her) was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She has been a part of Lutheran faith communities all of her life, and has been deeply impacted by the love, grace, and commitment of the people who have made up church for her. As a youth and young adult, Cecie felt most at home in church communities - from her weeks at summer camp to weekly Wednesday night youth group in high school to almost daily events with her campus ministry in college. 

During her time at undergrad, she discerned a call to ministry. She has been studying at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago since 2019, focusing on feminist theology and growing her voice for the importance of young adult ministry. As a young adult leader in the church, she craves spaces for intentional community, creative worship, and deep conversation. Cecie is currently settling into life in Austin, Texas with her husband, Mike. They both enjoy cooking, baking, time spent with friends and family, live music, and travel. 

To learn more about Holden Village, visit: http://www.holdenvillage.org or to listen to more audio recordings visit: http://audio.holdenvillage.org. The Holden Village Podcast is accessible through Apple iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, and most podcast apps. For questions and inquiries, contact podcast@holdenvillage.org.

Background music by Coma-Media: Milk Shake.

Intro:

Welcome to the Holden Village Podcast. Holden is a community of education, programming, and worship located in the remote wilderness of the Cascade Mountains. These snapshots provide a glimpse into the learnings taking place in our community. Let's tune in to this week's highlight.

Dev:

so, welcome to another edition of the Holden Village Podcast. I am your host Dev. He, him pronouns. And I'm with one of our Week 10 faculty members, Cece Suknane. Sanye. Sanye. Excellent. Wonderful. how would you like to introduce yourself and what are you offering the village this week?

Cecie:

Yeah. My name is Cece. My pronouns are she, her. Um, this week I'm teaching on young adult ministry in the ELCA. I'm overviewing what it looks like for people and ministries currently happening. Not a comprehensive list, but the about 10 that I know about. Today, we're going to talk about some very positive examples of ELCA young adult ministry. And then on Thursday we'll dream together about the future of young adult ministry, the future of the church, and how hopefully what we either learn from some really cool and some not as good examples of young adult ministry can be a part of our yearning and dreaming for the future.

Dev:

So what's your favorite part in the work that you do, or what's the most inspiring

Cecie:

part Yeah, so, um, I'm not quite yet a pastor. I'm in the, call process right now for my first call. I just graduated from seminary in May and, hopefully in the fall I will be working in a congregation. I'm sure you will be. I hope so. Um, but I... I had the experience during my internship year in Austin to, create a young adult community. It's called Gather Austin. It's in the Gather model that the ELCA young adults have come up with. There are three co facilitators of the Gather network who are from Cincinnati, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Colorado Springs that help new young adult ministries. Kind of be birthed. maybe a good word for them. They're, I think, like a co leader team, but maybe co doulas would be a fun, a fun name. And, um, I think it's a very fulfilling thing for me as a person, right? My, my role as a vicar, you know, pastoral intern, and my future role as a pastor has very, very fulfilling things in it. but being a pastor can be very isolating. Sure. Being a young pastor can be very isolating. Most of my friends, even that I grew up with at church, or, um, in campus ministry don't have church homes anymore. Faith might be a part of their life, but not explicitly lived out in a community of faith. or our friends are, are atheists, agnostics, somewhere in between. So, being able to create Gather Austin as a place for, Young people of faith who want to continue having community with people in the similar age bracket, similar life stage has been meaningful for me as a person first, as Cece. I do a lot of the work for facilitation and planning and whatnot, but I can show up and feel like I can be myself rather than be Vicar Cece or, you know, hopefully in the future, Pastor Cece. And it's meaningful to be known and to know. not that people don't know they're pastors, right? That's, that's not what I'm trying to say. But more, it's a job. It's a role. It's a call. And it comes with a lot of baggage. Um, and it comes with a lot of expectations. So sometimes, uh, you have to live into those. And then you have to take your person in smaller ways, I would think, in a congregation.

Dev:

When did you know that you wanted to work more with youth?

Cecie:

Probably it's because I am a young adult right now. Right. I'm 26. but I think I had such a core youth group in high school. I had such a core campus ministry when I was in college. And then going to seminary, I had a really robust set of friends. I've sort of like followed in these life stages. I feel like life stages are really important to navigate what you're going through with people who are also going through it. in addition to other relationships and intergenerational ones, but. really when I was in college and campus ministry, my campus pastor, her name's Mindy Roll. Um, she lived up here at Holden for, for a year in between when she left campus ministry and when she started in Houston. She did creative and fun things. There was always laughter. There was always a little sense of Holden hilarity. She, she came to Holden in the summers when she was in seminary. So I think this place probably rubbed off on, some of that with our campus group. And I loved the flexibility of her work. I loved the fact that she could pour so much into this like laboratory esque space. Well, let's try something, and if it doesn't work, we're not gonna just go and berate ourselves, but we're gonna learn from it, and I'm gonna get input from people. So, I would say that the work I get to do with young adults, is more collaborative. It is more creative. but I'm hoping to bring that into the call that I will be in, you know, once I'm as a pastor, because that's sort of a core tenant and who I am and how I lead. I don't think it's going to just go away because I'm ministering to mostly a community who are retirement age or older or a mix of all ages. getting to create Young Adult Ministry in Austin has allowed for a lot of collaboration, a lot of flexibility, and newness. But I think the same is going to happen, hopefully, in a church

Dev:

too. Absolutely. I'm glad that you brought up Holden Hilarity. It's usually the final question that I ask people, but since you brought it up, we will insert it here. what makes you laugh? how are you able to bring levity into your work? Cause, as you were saying, there are some nefarious things that happen. how do you allow that to enter into the, the space?

Cecie:

Yeah. I feel like I, I both give people a lot of grief and I receive a lot of grief, but in like a loving, fun sort of way. Love grief, yeah. Uh, love grief, yeah. Um, I think I'm, I really leaned, These past couple of years into being more playful, and sometimes, you know, I'll say something and it's someone I don't know as well. I'm like, oh gosh, like I can't joke with them the same way I can joke with a good friend from, that knows me and knows my sense of humor. Um, there's a man in the congregation I served who is kind of like the handyman who does it all. And he's such an asset to the church and, I, we were joking one day and, uh, I was laughing and I could see like a little twinkle in his eye, but I had to go up and be like, you know, that was all a joke, right? You understand,

Dev:

right?

Cecie:

I'm just trying to, to add a little bit of laughter and to find things that make others laugh. I think what, I don't know, I, I was thinking about this, a couple years ago when I was visiting with my cousins and their kids. They were like, Three, four, five, and six, maybe. And one of them just kept, like, spewing off jokes. Like, knock knock jokes, and, what did the whatever say to the whatever, and it's like a funny pun. and I don't joke like that anymore. I feel like sometimes that, like, child like, like, just knowing random jokes that are... Easy and light goes away as we get older. So, I don't know what happened. I don't know We get boring So it's not necessarily as much of like I have a list of jokes in my head, but I try to create laughter and I think leaning into playfulness leaning into A little bit of sass, if it's appropriate.

Dev:

Sass is always appropriate.

Cecie:

Well...

Dev:

In my world, it is.

Cecie:

What about you? What makes you laugh?

Dev:

Irony. Like, juxtaposing things. Um, I was at this conference a long time ago and there is this, um, this woman talking about, the trickster mythology and how the tricksters, how they, how they are the most compassionate characters in stories because they don't follow any rules. They don't follow the polarity of, you know, right or wrong. They just want to have fun and mess with things. And so in that way, like, they're a very ironic sort of archetype. And irony takes two, at least two stories, um, to be able to work. and compassion is being able to, like, take as many stories as you can, um, into your own perspective, um, or lens. And so, I heard that, and I was just like, oh, that's why I love that. Like, that's, it just makes sense to me. And, so yeah, I think me, deep down, like, I like messing with things, even though I don't always give myself permission to do so, because, you know, you're afraid of being judged, or, or all those things, but, being in improv has allowed, has given me more permission to do that, and also to facilitate groups where they can give themselves permission to play characters they don't normally play, for me it's a very psychological art form, um, because I often say the speed of story is faster than the speed of thought, and so you can't think. And if you're not thinking, then you no longer have this protective mechanism, like all your unconscious language just comes forth, and it's vulnerable, but always beautiful. for all you viewers out there, Cece and I have associations with the city of Austin, Texas. Yes. So, let's just get nerdy with some Austin vibe. What's, uh, what's the best taco shop? What's, uh... Breakfast tacos? Sure. Why not?

Cecie:

I'm a big taco joint girl. Taco joint! And sometimes I forget the days that they're closed, and I'll drive up, and, you know, I go run on the trail in Austin. Nothing sounds better than Amiga's taco and a Mexican Coke, but then they're closed. And I have to go get something, and it's just, it's not as good. Right, you know, the day's over at that point.

Dev:

Yeah. Truly. Truly. I talked about Veracruz earlier. yeah, their fish tacos like blow me away. And I know they have like a brick and mortar now. Are you into like the hipster taco thing? Or not as much? Um,

Cecie:

do you mean like fusion?

Dev:

Not like fusion, just more like, more like the, you know, hipsters just like to make things more fancy than they need to be. Yeah, kind of like bougie? Bougie. Yeah, tell a bougie. There's this place called Nishta. Um, N I X T A. That's on 12th, um, and closer to the airport. Okay. Um. it's delicious. I'm not gonna lie, like, I mean, hipsters are fun to make fun of, but sometimes they make bougie things that taste good. Sometimes.

Cecie:

Sometimes,

Dev:

there we go. Yes, we're on to you, we're on to you. Um, what else about Austin? What are your favorite things there?

Cecie:

so, I think the thing, I grew up in Northwest Hills in Austin, right? So, in the hilly part of Austin. And moving up to Chicago where I went to seminary and my husband went to law school, there was this very clear sense of it being flat.

Dev:

Right? What are you talking about? And so

Cecie:

even when we, we live now South Austin, it's very flat. And I dream of being back in the hills. I think it marked my life. I listened to this, uh, theologian poet named, uh, John O'Donoghue on a Krista Tippett on Being podcast. It was the inner landscape of beauty. And he was Scottish or Irish. I cannot remember. Um, he's since passed, but he talked about how he was marked, you know, his life was marked by where he grew up the landscape. And I do really feel like I was marked by Austin, by lilac trees, by the rolling hills, by the river. I love water. Um, I've only really started utilizing the trail around Lady Bird Lake. Since I've been in grad school because that's when I picked up running It's just something about even in the the heat of the summer when all of the grass is dead.

Dev:

Yes, thank God we're not there right now. It's 105 although yeah right it's 95 here so it's not much of a difference but a week ago there's like a 30 degree difference.

Cecie:

But in the summer Austin still comes alive. There's the crepe myrtles blooming and there's colors all around. It's not just a big It's little pockets of neighborhoods with trees and parks all around.

Dev:

The things that I associate with Austin are things that Austin is not really known for. So, A, the improv scene. Very vibrant improv scene that I don't feel like people really talk about outside of Austin. Um, and the table tennis scene. Oh my god. The best table tennis in the country. So it's my favorite sport. And so I was part of the Austin Table Tennis Club. Um, close to, it's by 183 and um, Yeah. Okay. So close to where, uh, there's this old English pub. What was it called? Sherlock's.

Cecie:

Uh huh. I know exactly where this is. Okay, yeah. So

Dev:

it's right behind that.

Cecie:

Yeah. By the bowling

Dev:

alley, kind of. Yes, kind of by the bowling alley. oh man. I would train there like four times a week. And it would just be so giddy for me. So wait, Was it Austin or Portland that came up with the phrase first?

Cecie:

Which one? The Weird. Keep Austin Weird. I grew up with Keep Austin Weird. Okay.

Dev:

So you're sticking

Cecie:

with the Austin? Tried and true, you know, five year old Cece, Keep Austin Weird tie dye shirt.

Dev:

Okay, alright. I have a lot of friends from obviously both Austin and Portland, and they keep, you know, telling me that they're... So I was just curious if you had an opinion. I, I

Cecie:

mean, I will, I will keep Austin Weird personally, but I'm not gonna let Portland not

Dev:

enjoy the same tagline. We can be generous. That's true. That's true.

Cecie:

The question is, can Portland be,

Dev:

right? Probably not. No, no, no. There's, there's a thing called the Northwest Freeze. Yeah, people are chilly. What's a top memory that you have in Austin?

Cecie:

A top memory that I have in Austin, my parents are divorced and we'd spend some time with my mom, sometime with my dad, and, uh, when my dad... for most of the weekend, we would go down to the Capitol and just kind of adventure around, you know, it's free to get in. It's cool in the summer. Um, one time we were adventuring in the Capitol and. Found some corridors that I don't think we were supposed to have

Dev:

found. Uhhuh. You found the inner like,

Cecie:

yeah.'cause all of a sudden, like we are like, there's no one here anymore and all. It's like the

Dev:

Illuminati corridors. Yes, exactly.

Cecie:

housed in the capitol, And we get on this elevator and it's, you know, like steel plates on the side. We're like, where are we? We come up and we are like a couple blocks from the capitol and like a building that spits you out. Oh wow. From the elevator. So, Us and some random guy that was delivering packages, but I think it's it's a memory. I look back very fondly of Because it was kind of absurd that you know a single dad and his two Small kids, you know, maybe 7 and 8 or 8 and 9, my brother and I are a year apart, got to find some of the inner weavings of the Capitol, and I'm sure someone was getting chewed out about it, you know,

Dev:

on the way there. Someone's no longer employed It's, there's this really beautiful resonance that happens in that building, um, that I really, really love. I love chanting, um, it's a big thing for me, but I love that you found the, the interweavings of that space, um, cause it's a, it's right there, like, in the city, it's like you, it's like the most, Iconic

Cecie:

part. And they're trying to make it more now as they're like building a mall out and the Blanton Museum of Art got a lot better. And I would say my second best Austin memory is when I was a kid, my mom had her brother, my uncle, come and visit and we went downtown for an art bazaar. Um, maybe it was at the Palmer Events Center because we were driving along the river right there and there's that statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan. You know the one I'm talking about. Oh yeah. And there's a, um. Oh, the roundabout. There's a roundabout. And so, you go on the roundabout and you can see the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan. And my uncle was driving and he goes, Hey, everyone say hi to Stevie! And we're like, Hey! And then he just goes, Let's do it again! And pulls us around and we did it like five times. You said

Dev:

hello to Stevie Ray Vaughan. And

Cecie:

we were kids, so my brother and I were cracking up. But it was a very fond memory of, uh, That's awesome. We didn't always go downtown. Sure. So, it's so fun.

Dev:

That's wonderful. I feel like we could talk all day long about Austin. I know you have an art, uh, thing. Watercolor. Watercolor, um, that you're doing. So, thank you for taking the time to have this conversation. For blessing the village with your presence. And, uh, yeah. I hope we get to talk more as well. Before the weekends. Yeah.

Cecie:

I would like that. Beautiful. Thanks for

Dev:

having me. Of course.

Outro:

Thanks for joining us. Be sure to view the links in the description for more information or visit our website to find out more about the village. We hope you will make a pilgrimage to Holden. Blessings and peace to you.