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.
Tomorrow, July 22nd, is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene.
Though it has at times been challenging, the Emmaus House Food Bank, a collaboration between five parishes in St. John’s, has been able to continue to serve its clients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The procedures may have changed a bit, but they are doing their best to stay safe and help their community. If there are people in the St. John’s area who you know who could use a little help right now, please let them know about Emmaus House.
This interview, and a short article about Queen’s College, will appear in the June print issue of Anglican Life.
Q. What is the theme word of your Winter 2020 Semester?
A. Resilience has to be my word for the College, our students, faculty members and community of friends of the College who have shown their hardiness and flexibility. It was a challenging semester…one like no other in my experience as a student, instructor, or administrator. We had a sequence of obstacles. We anticipated having our space refurbished with new flooring and painting by the start of the winter semester. The tradespeople discovered there was asbestos in the sub-floors. That required major work to complete the asbestos removal. That caused a delay to accessing the college for on campus classes, chapel, and activities for the first week of the semester, so we had online classes. Then, we were just underway, and we were hit by “Stormageddon,” and we then had sequential snowstorms…and in mid-March we had to make the adjustments for COVID-19. Our students and faculty members rolled with the challenges. We stayed on schedule for classes, and finished the term on schedule. The resilience is not only showing the mettle of our people, but we are learning from it.
Q. What lessons are being learned from the experience of this global pandemic?
A. We are learning numerous lessons. I will name a few:
1. The capacity to be connected while being separated. A few years ago, we started to use the internet to connect people for studies. We are now seeing the capacity to build substantial connections and community by prudent use of online technology. We continue to have an online community gathering for Mid-day Prayer and conversations each Tuesday at noon.
2. A second lesson, in my mind, is the value of our initiative in missional leadership and spiritual entrepreneurship. The world will not go back to the way it was. We must be serious about going into the world to connect in new and different ways. It gives opportunity to discern how we join God in bringing about the Kingdom in a restructuring world.
3. A third lesson, not new for most I hope, is the value of being rooted in the joy of the Gospel…the knowledge that God is faithful to us at all times, including in the mystery and confusion of this lingering global crisis.
Q. How will you prepare for the fall semester?
A. While we do not know how things will resolve with COVID-19, we are planning for the fall semester and we are gearing up to offer a full program. We will adjust as needed. We do know we will likely need to allow some flexibility in our program regulations. We will consult regarding internships, both parish internships and supervised practice of ministry. As we move through the spring and summer, hopefully, things will become clearer and we will become more specific on course and program planning. We will continue to offer our usual online courses and our Associate program.
Q. What are you plans, considering you were planning to retire in July?
A. I originally took the position of provost for three years. The Corporation asked me to stay on for an extra year while a new Provost was recruited. That year will end on July 31st. But, like most others things on earth, COVID-19 has forced changes to plans. This time of turmoil is not a good time for change of leadership in any organization. I will stay on as Provost until things settle in to a new routine and stabilize enough to allow for a transition of leadership. I expect to be here for the Fall Semester.
This article will appear in the May print issue of Anglican Life and is by The Rev’d Mark Nichols, Creation Care Animator for the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland & Labrador.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials in our province have been imploring us to follow science-based prevention measures to limit the spread of the virus. Sadly, far too many of us have refused to follow their guidance. They have told us that those who travelled abroad must immediately self-quarantine for fourteen days once they come home. Yet, people are getting off their flights, stopping at the coffee shop, picking up groceries, visiting family and friends, potentially spreading the virus in the process. We have been told to avoid gathering in groups, but we are still hearing of house parties and other gatherings. We have been told to practice social distancing, wash our hands frequently, and cough/sneeze into our elbows, but many just cannot be bothered. We know the right things to do to minimize the impact of this pandemic, but some appear to value their individual freedom, lifestyle and convenience more than the well-being—indeed, the lives—of others, especially the elderly and immuno-compromised. Sadly, COVID-19 has already taken one life in our province. I fear there will be many more deaths because some chose to do the wrong thing.
Do my words sound harsh?
Perhaps. Truth is often harsh. Unfortunately, this is not a behavioural anomaly unique to this pandemic. In our brokenness, human beings all too often do the wrong when we know the right. The apostle Paul speaks for the whole of the human family as he laments, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Romans 7:14-24). What is true of our behaviour in addressing the COVID-19 crisis threatening the human family in the here and now, is also true of our behaviour in addressing the ecological crisis that threatens the human family in the coming decades.
As the world grapples with a global ecological crisis, scientists and environmentalists have been imploring us to follow science-based mitigation measures to limit the damage we are inflicting upon this fragile earth. Sadly, we have collectively refused to follow their guidance. We know the environmental damage caused by plastic shopping bags, disposable coffee cups and lids, straws, and other nonessential single-use plastics, yet millions of these items are tossed away every single day in our province. We know that vehicle emissions are one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases fuelling climate change, yet we continue to buy bigger, less fuel-efficient vehicles, and kowtow to car culture in the way we design our towns and cities. We know the right things to do to minimize ecological damage and to limit climate change within manageable levels, but many of us value our individual freedom, financial well-being, personal convenience and opulent lifestyles more than the future we leave our children and grandchildren. If we continue along our present path, I fear my grandchildren will bear witness to the collapse of human civilization as we know it.
Do my words sound harsh?
Good. The harsh truth is what the science is telling us, and has been telling us, for decades. So, let’s be honest with ourselves. In our brokenness, when it comes to caring for the planet entrusted to our care, we do the wrong when we know the right. Father, forgive us, for we know exactly what we are doing.
Nevertheless, there is hope. Columnist Gwynn Dyer points to hope in his observation of the world’s response to the ongoing pandemic, in which we “have collectively decided, without even an argument, that we care more about the lives of our fellow citizens than we do about the damned economy.” If we can bring ourselves to address the threat posed by the ecological crisis with the same collective resolve that we are addressing the threat posed by COVID-19, there is hope.