I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t an Anglican; I was baptized a month after I was born in the same church I spent most of my life in, so the idea of choosing is somewhat non-existent in my story. Which is why the concept of ‘vocation’ or ‘calling’ connects so deeply to my heart: I didn’t choose this church, it formed me, it raised me, it shaped me into the person I am today. It made me the priest I am today.
I was ordained a priest on December 5, 2019, at St. James Westminster in London, where I serve as the Assistant Curate. Surrounded by the parishioners of my community and others I have worked with, my friends and family, and my colleagues, I took my vows and was consecrated by the Diocesan Administrator, Archbishop Colin Johnson. And I have never had such an emotional night.
As I prepared for the coming ordination, I was asked to reflect on my time in postulancy, the process that lead to being ordained first a deacon and then a priest. That time has seen me in some of the most difficult years of my life and has given me some of the greatest blessings I could ever ask for.
Postulancy, for me, was a long and hard desert road to walk. And there were times when I just didn’t know how I would continue. But I would always come back to the same thing: that God was in this somewhere.
I first felt ‘called’ when I was 13 and I was preparing for confirmation, and I read a book called Sometimes God Has a Kid’s Face about the beginnings of Covenant House (an agency for homeless youth) and I made a promise to God that I would give him my life in service because I thought we were going to do something big together. Something that could make a change in the world. (Which, if you knew me as a kid is not surprising, I regularly wrote to various government officials about changes or problems I felt needed to be addressed.)
That promise held me – along with the overwhelming love and support of my home parish, Christ Church Amherstburg, and my childhood deanery of Essex – through my teenage years and my undergrad. It kept me in the church, working toward that something big, when the rest of my Sunday School class had fallen away. And it took me to seminary, where I gained even more encouragement and support with the amazing faculty, staff, and students there.
And it was that promise, and all that love, that kept me here, when obstacle after obstacle threatened to derail my dream.
For the longest time, I thought I was being punished by having to wait so long, but when I walked down the aisle on the evening of December 5, and looked out at all the people who had gathered there to support me, I could only see the blessings I had been given.
I could only think of the five-year-old me that asked too many questions, but had the most patient Sunday School teachers and a priest who cared about giving me answers; the 13-year-old me making bigger promises than I probably could keep out of sheer optimism; the fresh out of university me that moved to London to go to seminary and felt nothing but excitement at starting this process.
My ordination wasn’t just the beginning of my priesthood, it was the culmination of all my life up to that point. It was a moment not only for me, but for all the remarkable and incredible people, both lay and clergy, who had moulded me, inspired me, and loved me.
From the music to the homily to the prayers, every part of that service felt spirit-filled for me, and felt so much a part of me, with my dad piping me out of the service, my best friend’s mom, Olive Elm reading, and my old homiletics professor and dean, Todd Townshend, preaching. And when the weight of my colleagues’ hands were on me, I felt that old promise well up (along with my tears).
This has been a difficult journey for me, but I have been so lucky to have so many people who have walked alongside me. They have given hope and joy and love when I had none, and I could never have survived without them. I have been given so much by this church, and I can only pray that I can give it the best that is in me, that I will try every day to live up to that promise I made years ago.
This ordination has meant everything to me, and I am so grateful that the only way I can end this is with thanks.
Thank you so much to Archbishop Linda Nicholls and Archbishop Colin Johnson; to the staff and faculty at Huron University College; the churches I spent my placements with; my fellow deacons and priests; LAIC and Bridge Builders; my CPE (NIRPP) ladies; Perry Chuipka, my PIP supervisor and LAAMB; Zion Oneida; St Paul’s Cathedral; Keith Nethery and St. James Westminster; Christ Church Amherstburg; my family and friends; my eight amazing presenters, Rosalyn Elm, Brad Johnson, Matt Koovisk, Mike Bodkin, Jane Humphreys, Gaye Whippey, Bill Strang, and my sister, Lillian Scorrar. And a special thank you to my parents, and yes, Lillian I will thank you again.