A highlight of my calendar this month has been several ordinations.
The Easter season, and the month of May in particular, is the customary time for ordinations in the Diocese of Toronto. This year, it has been wonderful to once again ordain deacons and priests with large, joyful, in-person gatherings of family, friends and the people of God.
Last Saturday, I presided at the priestly ordination of the curate of St. James Cathedral, the Rev. Claire Latimer-Dennis. The following day, her spouse, the Rev. Micah Latimer-Dennis, was ordained at his parish of Grace Church on-the-Hill by Bishop Kevin. It is incredible to think that just one year ago, the Latimer-Dennises were ordained together as transitional deacons at the cathedral with only eight other people present – including the videographer! In a remarkable contrast, this year’s ordination service for the transitional deacons featured eight ordinands! And in the presence of almost 600 others at St. James Cathedral, and many hundreds more online, we had a glorious celebration.
There are also some ordinations to the vocational diaconate this month, and I was so happy to preside at one of them just last Sunday. Our deacons contribute so much to the life of our Diocese in their various parishes. In my experience, parishes are beyond happy and proud to identify and raise up their own deacon.
The calling forth of vocations for holy orders is one of the joys and privileges of the Church. It is also an awesome responsibility. This past week, the Postulancy Committee of the Diocese – a dedicated group of 20 clergy and lay leaders, along with the College of Bishops – gathered at the convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine to spend some dedicated time with applicants for postulancy. After a night of preparation, and then a day of interviews, group discussions, worship and fellowship, the committee discerned and selected five new postulants for the Diocese of Toronto. These gifted individuals have offered themselves for priesthood in our Diocese and will now spend the next two years in intentional formation with the Postulancy Committee as they prepare to make sacred vows and receive the laying on of hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit in ordination.
In many parts of the Church, Vocations Sunday is kept on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, or Good Shepherd Sunday. It is an especially appropriate day for all of us to consider, as we look around our pews, who God might be calling forth for a ministry of Word and Sacrament. Who among our family of faith already demonstrates a deep love of God with gifts for worship, preaching, mission, leadership and pastoral care? Who maybe needs a gentle word of encouragement? Or the planting of a seed: “Have you ever considered…???”
To those of you who are already clergy – priests or deacons – have you told anyone recently about your love for your vocation? It is all too easy to complain about the challenges of ordained ministry, but have you recently shared the joys? Almost every cleric I know, despite the headaches and heartaches of the vocation, would never consider doing anything else. This calling of ours is a privilege, and I believe the blessings outweigh the burdens… every day.
All baptized Christians are called by God to a ministry in the Church, and everyone is asked to offer their gifts in service to others. But some are called and gifted by God to a special ministry in holy orders. Let us all be alert to discerning who God might be leading towards ordination in the Church, and offer our prayers and support for those who are on the path.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto