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Interview: January 2016

I re-examined where I was going

Molly Finlay is a full-time student in the Master of Divinity program at Wycliffe College, Toronto.

I am currently doing a placement at the new parish of St. Mary and St. Martha, which is a new thing for me. Even though I’ve grown up in the church, I’ve never served in some of these ways, and I really love the people I meet. I am having so much fun with our wonderful team of Beth Benson and Jonathan Turtle. We love to laugh together, and it’s a great joy for me to work alongside them in this place.

Molly Finlay
Molly Finlay

Another real gift in my life of ministry has been spending time at the sex trade workers outreach at All Saints, Sherbourne Street. I have a sense of what Father Gregory Boyle calls “kinship” with these women, and I feel very close to Christ when I’m there. I also think all the entrepreneurial work that David Opheim does at All Saints is a real beacon for the Anglican Church. It’s a great missional focus for friends of mine in my own neighbourhood who are so interested in being part of making a difference in the lives of those who are marginalized in our city.

It can be challenging at times to figure out what a call to ordained ministry will look like for me. I’ve loved being a part of a church community for a really long time, and I know that as baptized Christians we are all called to serve God wherever we are, in all of our homes and workplaces. I’m sure that plenty of our people are trying to figure out how serving God fits in with their time and talents, and I do think a lot about how exactly God might be calling me at this time and in our Anglican context. The other challenge is learning to say no – there are lots of things I get asked to do that I would love to do, but keeping it simple is this season of life for me.

I’ve grown up in Toronto, and this return to school is definitely a second – or third! – professional move for me. I enjoyed many years as a television journalist and then later a communications strategist in both the political and not-for-profit arenas. I’m grateful for all of these experiences.

I have been a person of faith for my whole life, but about five years ago, I re-examined where I was going. I was working really hard and had a very young family. I felt tired and purposeless and that I had somehow wandered from the person that God created me to be. I spent some great time with the Sisters at the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, where I learned about Benedictine spirituality and centering prayer, and about how to get back to being me within a new frame of life. That, along with some help from my own priest, Barry Parker at St. Paul, Bloor Street, opened me up to the possibility that I could be feeling a sense of calling to ordained ministry. This has been very unexpected but a great wonder and privilege. My husband Sam thinks I was in denial about this for a long time, so he’s very supportive!

It’s a really good time to be doing this kind of reading and thinking, and the schedule fits well with my family time. I was a working mom for many years, so I’m used to multitasking – what mother isn’t? – and that’s a handy skill at this stage of life. I love the new people I meet as part of this – not just Anglicans from across our diocese, but also from other parts of the province and country. And my friends at Wycliffe are so fantastic – I love the fact that I find myself with men and women who are 15 years younger than me. It’s so encouraging for the future of the church! As for the homework routine, it may not be the worst example for my kids that we are now doing our homework together after school. Having said that, trying to shift gears from the writings of the church fathers to helping out with Grade 4 math is a bit crazy.

I’m not sure in what context I’ll find myself after this. I’ve worked in the area of social justice throughout my life, so that’s a natural fit, and I’m very interested in how the local church can engage in this kind of work but also attract and transform the lives of the people doing the outreach. At the same time, I’m realizing that I love the ways I’ve been serving and the people that I work with and meet at my parish placement, so I’m trying to be open to God’s will in all of this. One thing I really recognize is that there will be something new that the Anglican Church will be doing and I’d love to be part of that – something creative that may be outside of how a typical parish setting currently operates. It’s a very exciting time to be exploring this vocation – God is at work, that’s for sure.

Isaiah 58:6-12 reminds me of our call to serve a broken world. We’re confronted with this need more than ever in recent weeks, as we see heart-wrenching images of refugees and senseless global violence. The amazing thing about reaching out to those on the margins is that we are transformed in the process. Not only is the Gospel personally life-giving but it shows us how to create a new kind of community, of inclusivity and radical hospitality. The prophet Isaiah says of our faith: “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear… The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters will never fail.”