Mother Donna Jean Kiessling

Mother DJ became our Rector on April 1, 2012 and moved to Delaware from eastern Pennsylvania. Her Masters of Divinity is from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA where she also received a Certificate in African American Studies. She was ordained a Deacon in May 2006 in the Diocese of Bethlehem and then a Priest in September 2007. After ordination DJ served part-time at her home parish, St. Gabriel’s in Douglassville, PA, for five years and then as a non-stipendary associate at St. Alban’s, Sinking Spring, PA until she was called by St. Peter’s.   

She has an Associates’ and Bachelors’ of Business Administration majoring in Business Management from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA. DJ worked full-time in the business and corporate area for thirty years before entering parish ministry full-time. Her past experiences include secretary, travel agent, small claims aviation adjuster, computer programmer, and 401(k) retirement plan manager. All have taught her life skills and confirmed her true love and passion for parish ministry.

In 1992 DJ made a weekend silent directed retreat at a Jesuit retreat house. Beginning in 1993 and continuing to the present, DJ has made an eight-day silent directed retreat at a Jesuit retreat house each year. In 2008, she made the 30-Day retreat on the Spiritual Exercises at the Campion Renewal Center in Weston, MA. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola have been instrumental in her spiritual journey of cultivating a friendship with God.

DJ is single and has two Yorkshire Terriers–Brady and Amadeo–whom she enjoys pampering. She enjoys walking, reading, relaxing, puzzles, kayaking, and playing with her pets. Over the years, she’s had the opportunity to travel out of the country to England, Israel, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and Mexico.

Mother DJ says, “My ministry is grounded in the belief that we are created out of love for love to be love for those we meet. God who is Love deeply desires a true, honest friendship that empowers us to be fully alive as spiritual beings on a human journey. My personal Mission Statement is to Live and Enjoy Life as God’s Beloved. Jesus is the model for what it means to be and live as the Beloved of God. When we look at the Gospels, we see that Jesus experienced joy in life in a healthy fulfilling way. St. Peter’s Mission is to be A Faith Community Offering Hospitality, Hope and Healing. Together we share a joint vision and ministry to enable God’s Love and Presence to provide a place of rest, joyful fellowship, and healing. In our journey through life, we all unintentionally accumulate baggage that weighs us down. St. Peter’s is a place where we can name our baggage and allow God to lighten our load freeing us to experience the true Grace and Gift of life and love always intended for us by God.

My own personal journey has been one of seeking deeper communion with God and allowing God to resurrect me from the extreme dysfunction that surrounded me as a child. These experiences have given me two foundational beliefs. First, that God can resurrect every death experience as long as I surrender myself in faith and trust. Second, the Love of God is stronger than any human power. I am truly blessed with deep healing, wholeness and love from God and the Christian Church. My ministry is empowered by my desire for others to experience the freedom, acceptance and joy I have experienced.”

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Contact us

St. Peter's Episcopal Church

22 North Union Street
Smyrna, DE  19977


Phone: 302-653-9691

Email Office: [email protected]

Email Rector: [email protected]

Email Preschool: stpeterspreschool[email protected]