Do not be afraid, my peace I give to you

My last column for our local paper, The Casket

I am typing in my office with a heavy heart, focussing on my task list so to avoid the fact that on Sunday I bid farewell to my first parish and the people of the Parish of Three Harbours.

In April, I announced to my beloved parishioners of Three Harbours that I have accepted an appointment to Trinity Church in Aurora, ON as an Associate Priest and Youth and Children’s Ministry Co-ordinator. And so, this is my last contribution to the Casket.

Throughout the Easter season we have read the “farewell discourses” from the Gospel of John. I have avoided preaching on them because saying farewell was so close to my own mind, and I resist paralleling my experience to that of Jesus Himself. But in my heart, I have echoed the words to my community that Jesus shared with His, “Do not be afraid.” “Peace be with you.” “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Just like the disciples in those three months after Jesus’ resurrection, we are naturally anxious during transitions. We are excited a bit at stepping out on our own and sad that a chapter in our lives is coming to an end. As faithful people who live the Christian story, we also know that the story continues for all of us and we live in hope for a good ending. Like the disciples, we do our best to cram in as much as we can. In taking care of the details, sometimes we forget that we are preparing for something new. Jesus knew this, why else would he keep telling his followers (and us), don’t panic, do not be afraid, peace be with you? And so I repeat these words of Jesus to myself and for my community.

During my time in north eastern Nova Scotia, I have taken on some controversy, lobbying for funding to be restored to KAIROS and for the town and county of Antigonish to commit to a skateboard park, taking on health education in our schools, naming poverty and injustice and living in solidarity with our LGBTQ community. I hope by shedding light on these issues, I have offered hope for those who continue the struggle. Thank you to all who have invited me on your journeys for justice.

To the students, faculty and staff of St. Francis Xavier University and the Coady Institute: I have found great joy in the challenges of ministering to you in your various disciplines and walks of life. May you encounter the Divine in all of your accomplishments.

The people and organizations of Antigonish and Guysborough counties have taught me so much. I am not the deacon I was when I arrived here in 2006. Thank you for being the best teachers a priest could have.

Thank you to Brian Lazzuri for inviting me to write for the Casket. I have enjoyed writing on matters important to the Church and how they relate to our lives in community. And thank you, dear reader, for reading, for stopping me in the grocery aisle and on Main St. to ask me questions and comment on my writing. I will miss you.

If you have enjoyed my writing and if you are online, please come on over to my blog:theflagsofdawn.wordpress.com. Don’t forget to comment and say hello. If you would like to know more about my destination, go to www.trinityaurora.ca.

Finally, to “my folks”, the parishioners of Three Harbours. This parish has embraced so many changes in the past four years with grace and increasing love for one another. You never cease to amaze me. You have a great capacity to love. Thank you for the privilege of ministering in your midst.

Peace be with you.

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