Fernley Scholars Announced (2019)

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

2019 Fernley Scholars

T. James Fernley was a seminarian who passed away 44 years ago leaving behind a legacy to help seminary students. (Read more on scholarship program.)  Each year, the T. James Fernley III Memorial Fund awards at least two scholarships per year in varying amounts. Full time seminary students  with the intention of being ordained can apply for funds. 

For information please contact Canon Arlette Benoit-Joseph at abenoitjoseph@diopa.org. Applicants must be from the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The deadline for the scholarship is April.

This year's four recipients are:

John Conner, Nashotah House Theological Seminary.  John Conner is currently a postulant in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. A lifetime resident of the Philadelphia area, he graduated from Council Rock High School North in 2012 and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the Pennsylvania State University in 2016. Although he was raised in an Episcopalian home and encouraged to pursue a vocation to the priesthood from a fairly young age, he didn’t seriously consider my sense of calling until he was an undergraduate. When he would return home from school for winter and summer breaks, he attended St. Clement’s Church in Philadelphia, a historical Anglo- Catholic parish in the neighborhood of Logan Square. During that time, he was the acting president of the Episcopal Student’s Association and was given his first taste of ministry leadership. Not only was he in charge of planning group events and discussions, but he was also engaged pastorally and spiritually with the members. It was that experience that truly solidified his commitment to pursuing the path to Holy Orders.

He had applied and was accepted into The Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin with the intention to matriculate for the Michaelmas 2018 term. In the autumn of 2018 he began a new chapter of his journey of discernment by being taken on by St. Phillip’s Church in New Hope, Pennsylvania for them to serve as my sending parish. Over the course of the summer of 2019 he was given the opportunity to twice preach during a Sunday service as well as serve on the altar. While he undergoes studies at Nashotah, not only is he exposed to a classical theological and spiritual curriculum, he actively takes part in student life activities and contributed to the communities liturgical life by acting as a paid choral scholar. In January of 2019 he was accepted to the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania for the summer of 2019. In the Eastertide term he also arranged to be conducting his pastoral fieldwork assignment for his middler year to be at Zion Episcopal Church in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. He will return to Nashotah House at the end of August 2019 having successfully completed my CPE program to begin his middler year as a seminarian.


Paul E. Reese, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. Originally from South Korea and raised in Central Pennsylvania, Paul E. Reese is a Candidate for Ordination, sponsored by the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. While at the Cathedral, Paul served as a chorister and liturgical team leader, enjoying the mentorship of the clergy under the direction of Dean Judith A. Sullivan and music director Dr. Thomas Lloyd. At Yale Divinity School, they served as a student musician and minister of chapel, while also singing in the Yale ensemble Schola Cantorum. Paul's research interests include the intersectionality of popular culture and religion, and their vocational interests include community organizing across lines of difference, catalyzing lay ministry, and creating fresh expressions of church. Paul recently completed a fellowship in Oaxaca, México, where they served as the inaugural intern of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church.


Yesenia “Jessie” Alejandro | Local Formation | Formation Director Dr. Sandra Montes. Yesenia “Jessie” Alejandro was born in Barrancas, Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. She was raised in PR part of her childhood and came to Philadelphia in 1991. She is the proud mother of 4 children and grandmother of 11 grandchildren.

Since Jessie has been in Philadelphia, she has worked throughout various communities as an activist, helping the less fortunate. In 2001, she was elected as a committee person in the 7th ward district in North Philadelphia.

She was the founder and president of Jessie Alejandro Production (JAP) which was established in 2003, a columnist for Focus Newspaper called “Jessie’s Teenage Group” which ran for 4 years to inspire adolescent to believe in themselves and reach their goals. She was one of the founders of Impacto Latino Newspaper in 2004 which covers the Delaware Valley (PA, NJ & DE). She has worked in numerous mental health clinic and several law firms through-out the city, she was also a home mortgage loan processors for Huntingdon Valley Bank and has volunteer to feed patients and families in different hospitals one in particular the Ronald McDonald house, she has done humanitarian work for many years.

Jessie is also a recipient of Phenomal Women Award, Shero Award, The Vivian Ortiz Award, and The Puerto Rican Festival Community Award, Jessie is also a Recipient of two Citations from the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania.

Shortly after, Jessie founded “Mothers Mission” in 2004. She gathered a group of volunteers, women and men, to feed those in need and still continues the mission today. The mission also has it Annual Thanksgiving Feast, this year will be 16th years in November and it has grown to 2000 meals and spiritual and moral support for those does with addictions throughout the city of Philadelphia and the South Jersey area. Her many certifications has help many by saving their lives from overdose of drugs. Jessie has helped shelter women from abuse and addiction since 2008 providing shelter and guidance and in some cases developing them into working professional.

Jessie is a candidate for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and is engaged in local formation with formation director Dr. Sandra Montes. She is currently engaged in ministry at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Chester, PA as her field placement.


Noah Stanbury, School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee. Noah Stansbury is a third-year master of divinity student in the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He serves the seminary community as Head Sacristan and co-convener of the Diversity and Reconciliation Committee, and represents the seminary student body on the university's board of trustees. Before seminary, Noah worked in parish administration at Saint Mark's Church, Philadelphia. He is an alumnus of Servant Year, the Episcopal Service Corps program in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and served as Volunteer Coordinator at Saint James School in Philadelphia.

While his heart remains in Philadelphia, Noah is an adopted native of Columbus, Georgia, where he spent much of his upbringing. He holds a bachelor's degree in biblical studies from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Outside of his work, he enjoys cooking, hiking, and the theater.


The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and the four 2019 Fernley Scholars are extremely grateful to the friends and family of the late T. James Fernley, III for establishing this memorial fund to provide financial assistance to those studying in seminary. The Church Foundation continues to manage this fund to meet the goal of providing similar scholarships into the future.