Priest’s challenge aids fund

Published February 1, 2003

Bishop Len Whitten praised the Stephenville Crossing parish for helping General Synod’s healing fund.

The tiny three-point parish of Stephenville Crossing, Nfld., is on fire with fundraising zeal to help aboriginal Anglicans.

Rev. Karen Laldin, a Newfoundlander “from a little outpost” is part-time rector of the 110-family parish on the province’s west coast. Blazing with enthusiasm after hearing Archdeacon Jim Boyles, the church’s general secretary, give a presentation on the healing and reconciliation fund at the provincial council in Montreal, Ms. Laldin asked what she could do to help.

“Do something for the healing fund,” came the reply.

In November, the parish launched its healing and reconciliation mission.

Nobody in the parish knows any aboriginal people, the priest acknowledged, and there were no residential schools in Newfoundland, so the issue was not close to home. Nonetheless, the rector, who has been with the parish for five years, threw down the gauntlet to her flock.

“I asked them do they care that their native brothers and sisters in Canada are in pain and need healing and will you help?”

She said she got an enthusiastic yes and on Dec. 15 the 69 people at that Sunday worship donated $620 to the fund.

“The money isn’t all in yet,” Ms. Laldin added. The parish’s generosity is even more marked because the parish is made up mostly of retired people living on government pensions.

She figured there would be about $800 when the other small congregations added their special envelopes to the pile.

The parishioners challenged all Newfoundland parishes to match or better their contributions.

“Parishioners say they are pleased and thrilled that we are going to challenge the others. One congregation actually beat the other congregation which is two times the size,” she said. “There’s a healthy competition.” The e-mail crossed over into the two other Newfoundland dioceses.

The Sunday offering coincided with the visit of Bishop Len Whitten. She had not asked permission from the bishop before proceeding with the fundraising drive. “I figured forgiveness is easier than permission,” said Ms. Laldin.

Forgiveness turned out to be unnecessary. Bishop Whitten said in an interview, “I am just so pleased. We haven’t had any residential school experiences in Newfoundland, and it is not easy to get people to relate to it.

“I think the issue-raising done by Ms. Laldin is as important as the fundraising aspect of it. I am sure the other parishes will accept her challenge and use it to raise some awareness around the residential schools issue. People here know about it, but not much because it doesn’t touch them directly.”

Bishop Whitten said Ms. Laldin’s challenge to other parishes would complement a letter being sent to parishes about the settlement with the federal government. w


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