Meet 3rd Year Master of Divinity student Sarah Mae Gabuyo, a true citizen of the world, who enriches Wesley with her welcoming spirit and global perspective.
Sarah Mae has “a dual identity as a Filipino and Italian,” as she was born in Manila, Philippines to Filipino parents, but her family migrated to Milan, Italy when she was 10 years old “for us children to receive a better education and future,” said Sarah Mae. Growing up in Italy, “ I fiercely nurtured my personal intercultural identity,” but 'home' is defined more by the people around Sarah Mae than geography. “Italy has a special place in my heart, since I spent the most formative years of my life in Milan and Rome. But I have many homes in my heart, such that it doesn’t require me much to start calling a new place 'home' once I start building a strong relationship with people around me,” she said.
Sarah Mae holds a combined Bachelor and Master of Arts in Flute Performance from the State Conservatory (Adria, Italy), a diploma in Vocal Opera Performance from the Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca (Milan, Italy).
Sarah Mae’s path to Wesley began with her participation in the three-month Epworth League Discipleship Intensive Program in Wisconsin while working in young adult ministry with the Methodist Church in Rome, where she discerned God’s call to be an ordained elder in the church. “My desire was to attend a United Methodist seminary to acknowledge the church that welcomed and raised me since birth. However, that would require me to move to the United States or the Philippines,” she noted.
As a result, Sarah Mae arrived on campus at Wesley, sight unseen, from Italy. “My immense gratitude goes to the Admissions Office who assisted me thoroughly to a smooth transition to be a seminarian on another continent. I didn’t have the chance to do a campus visit prior to becoming a student, but it was the warm hospitality I received from Admissions and the financial support largely provided by Wesley that gave me the confidence that I was in the right place where God wanted me to be,” she recalled.
She now helps others have the same welcoming experience as an Admissions student worker and a campus residence manager. “It’s a joy to be a student at Wesley and serve Wesley in the Admissions Office and Residence. I am grateful for the opportunity that I can be a student called to intentionally extend the warm hospitality of Wesley to current and future students,” she said.
Sarah Mae graduates with her M.Div. in May 2020, and will be commissioned as a Provisional Elder in the Wisconsin Annual Conference in June 2020. “I wouldn’t have made it this far alone,” she acknowledges. “Wesley provided me a warm community away from home, enabling me to live daily the global aspect of the United Methodist Church. I appreciated the significant amount of time devoted to practical training in ministry while attending Wesley, where I am completing a two-year ministry internship with Capitol Hill UMC, and served as a chaplain intern at Georgetown University Hospital last summer. All these experiences, along with my academical formation at Wesley, are significant in strengthening my call to ministry,” she noted.
“I feel ready to transition to full-time ministry after graduation because Wesley provided me a strong foundation to ministry. Most especially, I am grateful for my professors and supervisors at Wesley who equipped me to embrace and carry out God’s mission for the world through their knowledge, wisdom, and love.”
What is something we don’t know about Sarah Mae? “I strongly consider flute playing as my fourth spoken language, after Filipino, English, and Italian. It’s interesting how much my music formation also characterizes my global identity because of my training with internationally-recognized flute mentors. I was mentored for 15 years by a world-class Italian flutist, Raffaele Trevisani, a long-time student and friend of the legendary Sir James Galway. And in my intensive years of flute playing, I also took several classes with Sir James Galway.”
“As I live the global aspect of being a Methodist, I treasure John Wesley’s quote, ‘The world is my parish’,” said Sarah Mae. “This provides me a guideline to always think outside the box. God calls us to bring light to the world and we definitely need each other because there’s so much work that needs to be done to carry out God’s mission in the world. To consider the world as my mission field is to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in uniting people who come from different cultural backgrounds and traditions. I believe that it is only together, with our shared gifts and resources, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that we can bring transformation in the world,” said Sarah Mae.
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