Rev. John Ward-Diorio’s bio
I will try and hit some of the points where you might go: ‘oh yeah, that’s where I know that guy from.’
I was raised by my parents Jackie and John Diorio in Millville, New Jersey (yes, the hometown of Mike Trout and also the undefeated 1975 State Champion Group 4 Football Team, for whom I played). My sister Wendy is married to Kevin MacCarthy and they have two wonderful daughters, Kelly and Emily.
I attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., graduating in 1981. I was a Nisbet Scholar, played football, was a member of a fraternity, and a Raven’s Claw member, majored in Religion and minored in Economics. How’s that for a mix? Thanks to Professor Peggy Garret, I took classes in one of the best undergraduate Religion Departments in the nation at that time (at least according to one of my Divinity School Professors).
After graduation, I worked with adjudicated youth in New Jersey for a year, and then as a Residential Counselor at the Pathway School in Jeffersonville, PA for four years. The students were diagnosed as being learning disabled and/or emotionally disturbed. They and the other staff taught me far more than I taught them, especially about effort and how we define success.
I attended Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Ma., from 1986-1989, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree (MDIV) and way more debt than I anticipated. I had the privilege of getting to know the most diverse group of people, comprising the student body, staff and faculty, that I had or have encountered since. I was most definitely shaped by who they were and what they had experienced.
I also had the privilege of being a Student-Intern at the South Action Congregational Church, UCC for the three years I was in school. I continued to work there for the next three years as well, while I worked in Religious Book Stores in Cambridge and Boston, earning some money and reconstructing my theology and the practice of my Faith. The Rev. Ross Lilley was my Mentor and many other great people there were incredibly patient and understanding teachers.
I was called to serve the First Parish Church Congregational, United Church of Christ (they did not want to get rid of any of their names) in Freeport, ME in the summer of 1993. Together with a number of wonderful people, the Congregation and I learned a lot, did a lot, grew a lot spiritually and personally over the 14 ½ years I was there (I think I may be their third longest serving Pastor). I was blessed to be a part of a supportive, challenging and faithful Clergy Support Group, which provided a foundation that I am still building upon. While there I met and married Sue Ward and we became the Ward-Diorio’s. Interestingly, we both grew up in New Jersey. We made our home in Pownal and our three children, Slater, Lily and Becca (surprise twins) were born in Maine, though we know they are not officially Mainers.
I accepted the Call to become Pastor and Teacher of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ of Mechanicsburg, Pa., beginning in January of 2008. I specifically sought to serve an Open and Affirming Congregation (ONA). St. Paul’s will be celebrating its 15th Anniversary of being ONA in 2018. I am blessed to be a part of such a faithful, active and loving Congregation, who take seriously, and live into Jesus’ call for us to love God with our whole beings, and our neighbors as ourselves. You can see some of what we do throughout this website, and there is more. Please come find out for yourselves.
We Ward-Diorios currently live in Boiling Springs, Pa., with the addition of our big black Boxer/Lab rescue dog mix, Titan (he is one). Sue is the Individual Giving Manager at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank; Slater is currently an Orangeman at Syracuse and Lily and Becca are still Bubblers (yes, that is our School’s nickname; embrace it, we have) at Boiling Springs High School.
I have been blessed throughout my journey so far and feel very fortunate to be doing ministry with the people of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. Each step along the way I have met incredible people and have made wonderful, life-long friends. I hope to be able to continue serve God, by serving others, together with others. I hope you will join us.
Peace, Rev. John