Dick Hunt's Blog

December 23, 2012

Christmases After We Were In Parish Life.

Filed under: Current — Tags: — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 9:41 pm

Christmases After We Were In Parish Life.
by Dick Hunt, December 21st, 2012.

I actually served half time in St. Matthews Parish in Sutherland, adjacent to Saskatoon for 7 months while we were still in Saskatoon for my studies. We had arrived in St. George’s Stettler the end of May, 1957 with our four Children. Our regular services were on Sundays at 8 AM, 11 AM and 7:30 PM in Stettler; 2:30 PM, 20 miles south in St. Edmunds, Big Valley twice a month and once a month in Scollard another 9 miles on in a nice little country Church. I also took services in Erskine, near Stettler, All Saints Castor. 30 miles East and Holy Spirit, Coronation 60 miles out when needed, and then George Smith and Art Carrie, the Lay Readers took Morning or Evening Prayer. So our Christmas at home was early morning Stocking opening and Dad was missing from the Rectory for the rest of the day. What I remember is keeping up with the Schedule, fighting snow and grabbing a snack when possible. We had some Christmas at home after Christmas day.

When we moved to St. Peter’s, Williams Lake, B.C. The schedule was no less pressing as I had responsibility for a Church at Alexis Creek, 75 miles west, and a Ranching Community 100 miles out in a Ranch house on roads which were often treacherous. The first year we were there, I had planned to go to the Ranch House on December 22nd for Christmas Communion. It was minus 57 Fahrenheit in Williams Lake the evening before and the Rancher, Mr. Bayliff, phoned to say we should wait until it warmed up, they had not seen the mercury in the thermometer for two weeks and it disappeared at minus 60 F. I went out in early January.

So we had Christmas at home, with services in St.Peter’s at 8PM and 11 PM Christmas Eve, Stockings at 6 AM, services 8 AM and 11 AM Christmas day. Turkey at 2 0’clock and a more relaxing few days afterward. I also took services at a small lakeshore community, McCleese Lake, 30 miles north of Williams Lake , and from time to time,thanks to a well trained Lay Reader, Richard Spalton who was self employed as a B.C. Surveyor, at St. Timothy’s in 100 mile House 60 miles south, and in four mission points east of 100 Mile House. Add to that occasional services 60 miles east of Williams Lake at a town called “Horsefly”. Eventually I had the help of a new Deacon, Selby Irwin who was soon ordained Priest; with his wife Vera and their three daughters, and he looked after services in some of the outlying points. When he was moved to Ashcroft, Walter Bayley and his wife Mae came to look after the outside points.

After nine years in Williams Lake, I was invited to move to St. Peter’s, Campbell River with responsibilty too for Sayward Valley 50 miles north and some work on Corte’s Island, two ferry trips toward the mainland. We arrived there near the end of July , 1973 and moved into a Rectory which was up the hill above the Church. The Church building was on the Island Highway and seated around 90 people jam packed. A small hall was attached to it at the back and another larger hall was across the small parking lot. When we arrived we were met by Harold Knight, a school teacher who, with his wife Margaret were our staunch friends during all our twelve years there. There was a Parish Council which worked together effectively, a good Sunday School, well staffed, a good A.C.W. And there was a Lay Reader who I inherited from the past and with whom I could not work in harmony.

The Parish Office was in the Rectory, in what had once been the Garage in the basement. I eventually built a new Garage and workshop at the bottom of the long lot, at my own cost. There were always lot’s of repairs to be done in the Church buildings. It was a happy Parish.There was not a functioning Secretary so I found myself cranking out the Pew Leaflets each week on the old Gesetner. I had to announce one Sunday that there was no Pew Leaflet as I had run out of time and energy at one AM and had gone to bed. When I shook hands at the door, a new Lady said quietly, “I have been doing Pew Leaflets for years. Here is my phone number , name and address. I will do the job if you just let me have the notes. Her name is Joan Werrun and I am still in touch with her where she now lives in Victoria. The next Sunday, I announced that the roof was leaking again where the Hall was attatched to the Church and I would like some help to fix it. A man shook my hand at the door and said his name was Larry Gregg, that his wife was Joan Werrun. He said it was not my job to fix the roof, that he would do it if I would show him where. I showed him after the people had left. On Monday as I was driving by the Church on the way home to lunch, Larry was just coming down off the roof, the job done properly and it never leaked again as long as I was there. I drove in and thanked him and he said, with tears in his eyes, “It is me that should be thanking you for bringing us back to Church”. Both Joan and Larry eagerly accepted my request that they be trained as Lay Readers and when they were ready, they were Licenced and proved to be gems in the core group which made the work in the area such a happy time. After they moved from Campbell River, they bought the lot next to ours on Mayne Island, built a cabin there and became the active Lay readers for St. Mary Magdalene Parish on the Island.

Larry was decidedly called to full time Ordained Ministry and trained in the Vancouver School of Theology, commuting to Vancouver by ferry and spending most week ends on the Island. When he was ordained he became Minister to the Island. When he retired they moved to Victoria and gave very good service as Volunters in Langford Parish, where some of my relatives are buried. He recently passed away.

I trained two very devout ladies, Pearl Schram and Rosemary Shipway as Lay Readers after Larry and Joan left and they were most effective in helping with services, visiting the sick etc.. Rosemary was the Matron of the Care Facility attached to the Hospital. I eventually suffered a broken back and left foot in a fall from a faulty ladder at the age of 65 which brought about my retirement. The two ladies were invaluable in the effectveness of the Parish. Those two very compassionate women swung into action when I broke my back and foot and was getting back on my feet wearing a body brace and walking on crutches. We had a young Deacon working in the Parish named Nick Parker and he too carried more than his weight. He is now Chaplain to the Missions to Seamen in the Port of Vancouver. I was able to take up my duties again after three months of recovery.

I retired the 4th of August, 1985, my 65th Birthday. We moved to Mayne Island where we owned a Cabin and I went back to work for 3 years. One of our years, late in our time in Campbell River, while I was conducting two services before lunch, Ruth cooked up a huge Christmas dinner, packed it in blankets etc. and off we went to Mayne Island to eat it. All our family was there, the weather was as balmy as could be and we thoroughly enjoyed not only the food but each others company. Fully relaxed, we went home a couple of days later. An astonishing blessing.

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