Donna Arellano - A Journey from Computer Programmer to Deacon

Donna Arellano - A Journey from Computer Programmer to Deacon

By Sophie Smal, Communications Coordinator

As a cradle Episcopalian, the Rev. Donna Lynn Arellano spent her adolescent and young adult years attending church in Philadelphia. After she graduated high school, Arellano attended college and earned her degree in computer engineering. Upon completion of her schooling, Arellano moved to North Carolina, where she said that her church attendance became more sporadic. 

Throughout the next eight years, Arellano worked long hours as a computer programmer, met and married her husband Hector and gave birth to their child. 

After her daughter was born, Arellano knew that she wanted her to be raised in the church, so when the trio moved to California in 1989, their home church became St. Michael's, Carmichael, where they regularly attended. While raising her daughter, Arellano gave up her job as a programmer to become an IT analyst, which was more family friendly. 

Even though she loved working, Arellano couldn't shake the feeling that her job wasn't enough. "I've always felt this need to help people - people living on the margin. My work life simply didn't feed this drive for helping people, because (it's) very secular - you can't talk about religion in case it offends someone," Arellano said. "I even had this envy of people who were social workers - people who get to help others. I don't get to do that at my job." 

As she and her family attended St. Michael's, Arellano was very actively involved in church events, youth ministries, and Diocesan committees. 

"I've always felt called to serve in the Church and at this time I kept praying to God, 'How is it you want me to serve?' Even though I prayed, I felt like I wasn't getting an answer. It was a very tough time for me, and this went on for eight to nine years," Arellano said. 

Throughout the following years, Arellano kept growing and praying. There was even a time when someone suggested Arellano become a priest and Arellano said that "God very clearly said, 'No!' " 

However, Arellano said that now-retired priest George Foxworth, who played a big part in her spiritual formation, "approached me about becoming a deacon and then, finally, I was certain that this is what God wanted me to do." 

In 2013, Arellano started the process of the diaconate and also started at the Episcopal School for Deacons, where she graduated from in May of this year. Arellano says she can now look back and see what was in the works. 

"God always answers prayers. At the time, there was stuff I needed to grow in," Arellano reflected. 

Having done her field education at Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, Arellano will be staying on as deacon for the next few years.

"There's so much to learn as a new deacon, especially at Trinity Cathedral, since it's such a large church. I really did benefit from doing my field work (at the Cathedral), and I'm determined to be successful with what I have there," Arellano said. 

Arellano's first big project will be helping the Cathedral become more involved with the center at St. Matthew's, Sacramento, and Arellano said she is "really excited to be a part of it."

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Mary Anderson wrote:
I go to church at the Cathedral, but I live near St. Matthew's. I can help out a little bit there.

Wed, August 23, 2017 @ 5:30 AM

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