Some priests discern the call to ordination while serving others, some hear it at church, but for the Rev. Mary Lessmann, she got the nudge amidst the noise and clamor of Chuck E. Cheese’s. Afterwards she entered a period of discernment, entered the process for ordination to the priesthood, and attended Perkins School of Theology at SMU. She was ordained in 2009 and has served at several churches in the diocese.
A native Texan, Mary grew up in Corpus Christi and attended Texas A&M where she met her husband, Russ. After graduation, they lived in North Texas and Mary worked as a CPA, but eventually chose part-time work to allow her to spend more time with her two sons, Parker and Mitchell. Although Mary and Russ both were raised Roman Catholic, they became active members of St. Peter’s in McKinney. “We tried lots of Catholic churches with no luck,” she said. “Then my boss, who was a member of St. Peter’s – McKinney, suggested that we try the Episcopal Church. We walked in the first Sunday and looked at each other and said, ‘Ah…this is what we’ve been looking for,’ and we’ve been Episcopalian ever since.”
When she started working part-time, she also became a “church-nerd,” she said. “I remember going to my rector, Chuck Treadwell, and telling him how hungry I was to know more about Scripture, our faith and the history of the church. He said, ‘The best way to learn something is to teach it. Why don’t you start a class?” So I did; I taught everything I was interested in learning. This eventually led to my taking Education for Ministry, which is a four-year lay seminary education. During my first year of EFM I had an intense call experience – while at Chuck E. Cheese’s with my children!”
Her boys are now young adults. Parker, age 23, graduated from TCU last year and completed his first year as a middle school choir director in Garland. Mitchell, 21, will begin his senior year at Texas A&M in the fall with a math major and concentration in statistics.
The Lessmanns are a musical family. Mary plays guitar and sings, and both her sons play instruments and sing. “Russ and I joke that we’ve been going to the boys’ performances since middle school and we are still at it. We often get down to Texas A&M to see Mitchell perform with the Century Singers and we’ve become a fixture at Austin Academy Middle School concerts so we can see Parker direct his choirs.”
The family also enjoys travel and hiking, particularly in Colorado exploring different parts of the state. “We hiked a 14-er once (14,000 feet or more) – Quandary Peak. It almost killed me! But I absolutely love being in the midst of all that natural beauty and getting the payoff of a majestic view or a lake or a waterfall.”
Mary enjoys serving at Saint Michael and looks forward to teaching classes in the fall. “I love preaching, leading worship, teaching adults, and helping those who are new to our church connect to the congregation.”