Anglican Life welcomes The Rev’d Irving Letto as a regular contributor to the paper. As the archivist for the Diocese of Eastern Newfondland and Labrador, Irving has access to many fascinating documents, and is going to share some of them with the readers of Anglican Life. This article will appear in the October print issue of the paper.
About fifteen years ago, John Denine of the Goulds traded a six-pack for some old newspapers that were found in a house that was being torn down in Conception Bay South. Thinking they might be valuable to someone he simply held on to them. This past year, he discovered among them this little folded card that he delivered to the church office at St. Peter’s Church in Upper Gullies, and later donated to the Archdeacon Buckle Memorial Archive of our Diocese. He gladly did this with the request that it be recorded as being donated in memory of his 9-year-old granddaughter, Navaeh Denine, who died of neuroblastoma two years ago. Most of us will remember her as the child who raised thousands of dollars for other kids with cancer. I gladly added it to the Parish of St. Peter’s finds at the archive.
This is a good example of valuable documents from our past that lie hidden in old attics, Bibles, or collections of our faith ancestors. Our Diocesan Canons require the Diocese to “provide a secure place of deposit for the archival records of the Diocese” and to have an archivist who would “appraise and acquire (such materials) for the purposes of preservation and research.” All parishes are by Canon required to have an archivist, but the expectation is that all non- current parish registers would be delivered to the ABMA for preservation with copies of these documents being held by the parishes.
This particular document when folded is a little smaller than the Canadian Church Diary you see many of our clergy using, but it provides a bird’s eye view of the church in Conception Bay South in 1926. It helps us see how the work of the church continues and adapts over time as the world changes. Bishop Peddle wrote in his letter to the Diocese on February 28, 2019 that parishes are being challenged to “enter into new conversations about their future together with an eye to fresh missional opportunities.” As we ponder what this means in our day we may find encouragement by the example of Canon Hugh W. Facey, who held a week- long mission in October 1926. From the parsonage in Kelligrews he wrote, “The object of the Mission is the strengthening and confirming of us all in a renewed and consecrated life of love and service for God and His Church.” They had invited Rev. William Turney, who at that time was a “missionary” in Chicoutimi, Quebec, to conduct the “Teaching Mission.” Imagine the planning made in 1926 to bring Rev. Turney from Winnipeg and to have this little bulletin printed. How does this speak to us today?
A good storyteller could follow the schedule of services for the weeklong event, and reading between the lines write a historical novel following the often quoted epigram of the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890). “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
Canon Facey was born in English Harbour, Trinity Bay in 1882 where he received his early education. After studying theology in England from 1905-1910, he was ordained and returned to Newfoundland. He served in several parishes and missions remaining in the Parish of Heart’s Content for twenty years. The author of a tribute to him in The Newfoundland Churchman (January 1995) wrote that “in 1961… he was appointed to do missionary work in the outskirts of St. John’s,” but the “strain was too great, even for such a physical giant as he had been, and he retired from active service in 1962.” He died in 1964.