Missives of comfort

Published September 1, 2012

Photo: Diana Swift

Evelyn Chipperfield may be turning 91, but she’s still living the Marks of Mission.

The slim, elegant widow continues to reach out to others in the same way she did as a teenager, when she started writing weekly letters to local men fighting overseas in World War II. Chipperfield now sends letters of comfort to the sick and housebound and messages of encouragement to those who’ve recently moved from the parish, wishing them well in their new abodes.

The parishioner at the Church of the Advent in Etobicoke, Ont., pens her letters in a fine cursive hand and can’t recall a time when she wasn’t active in the Anglican church-or the Church of England in Canada, as it used to be known-even when she was bringing up four children who have given her 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. One of her favourite church projects was making tiny, smocked nightgowns for babies born to teenage girls in Humewood House, a Toronto home for unwed mothers.

Born in 1921, Evelyn lived part of her childhood in the Great Depression, growing up in a family of seven where everyone pulled his weight. “We had paper routes and we used to sell newspapers before and after school at the train station,” she recalls.

Each year, Chipperfield supervises the parish’s distribution of coin folders for Lenten giving. She also serves as convener of her church’s 71-member branch of the Needlework Guild of Canada, a national clothing and disaster-aid charity.
But her main focus remains reaching out to people through letters. Even in this age of instant messaging, “a lot of people still like to get a handwritten letter,” she says


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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