By Martha Holmen
Representatives from Anglican-affiliated independent schools in the Diocese of Toronto gathered on Nov. 12 for a dinner to celebrate the work of school chaplains and those who support them. Among the guests were chaplains, heads of school and board chairs, as well as Archbishop Colin Johnson and the four area bishops.
Seven independent schools within the Diocese have chaplains, whose roles can include leading regular prayer services, teaching religious education classes and providing pastoral support to their school communities.
The Rev. Jesse Parker, a graduate and board member of Royal St. George’s College and the incumbent of St. John the Evangelist, Port Hope, spoke about the ways in which school chaplains enrich the lives of their students. He emphasized the role of chaplains in providing support and sowing the seeds of vocation as students struggle with the stress of trying to discern their future paths.
“Each one of us, each child, each student, is best prepared to take his or her own place in the world when they’ve been reminded again and again that their first and great object is not so much to find a job, to start a career, to study this or that because they’re expected to by their parents or their peers, but to find a calling, to nurture a vocation and thereby to grow into the fullness of who God made them to be,” he said.
Mr. Parker credited the Rev. David Donkin, chaplain at Royal St. George’s College, with planting the seeds of vocation in his life. “In a difficult time, David was one person in my life that I knew I could trust completely,” he said. “I came to regard him as a companion, as someone who was walking alongside me, a confidant, a friend even. And that’s a precious and rare thing for a young person to find in an adult.”
Archbishop Johnson thanked the chaplains, as well as those who support their ministries, for their invaluable work. “I’m very grateful, because you are engaged in the training and the formation of young people who will take major leadership roles in our society in the next generation,” he said.