A Montreal priest’s visit to the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) timed to coincide with the parishes’ assembly at the beginning of May has served to further cement a companionship relationship first established in 2008.
Reflecting on the value of the trip, the Rev. Andy O’Donnell, rector of the parish of Bedford, Phillipsburg and Farnham in Québec’s Eastern Townships and member of the diocese of Montreal’s partnership committee, said that it was very helpful to “come out and put a face to names and places I’ve talked about but never been.” The insight gained from visiting APCI communities and meeting their members would be helpful in putting parishes in contact in the future, he added.
“When I go back and we have our discussions about who would be a better fit – would Holy Trinity Church in Cowansville be a better fit with maybe Merritt, or something like that…. Well, I met the clergy and I met some of the members, so I can say ‘yeah, that would work well’ or ‘maybe you should talk to someone in Ashcroft,'” he said.
The Rev. Isabel Healy Morrow, rector of St. George’s Anglican Church in Kamloops and chair of APCI’s companion relationship committee, welcomed O’Donnell and his wife Lynn, who accompanied him, and spoke positively about the work that has already been put into fostering the companion relationship.
“We’ve been walking with the diocese of Montreal as companions for over six years now, and it’s been a voyage of discovery, a voyage of joy, a voyage of deep sharing,” she said in an address to the APCI assembly. “Despite the geographical and contextual differences, we have discovered during our shared journey that we have much in common.”
In particular, Healy-Morrow noted a shared commitment to programs for youth, citing active involvement of youth from Montreal and APCI in Canadian Lutheran and Anglican Youth (CLAY) events, and a 2012 visit from Montreal youth to APCI during which “For a too-brief period, our young people worshipped, played, worked and learned side-by-side.”
Healy-Morrow said that in a further step towards relationship, profiles of every parish in APCI have been sent to the diocese of Montreal.
“Montreal has met several times, and its committee has carefully matched our parishes with ones in the diocese of Montreal that have similar characteristics in some way,” she explained. “The Montreal committee is presently meeting with each of the proposed parishes to see if they are willing to participate…. Invitation-to-participate letters will be sent out shortly from Montreal to APCI congregations, so watch your mailboxes.”
O’Donnell said a highlight of the trip was the time spent in APCI communities before the assembly.
“I really enjoyed being in the parishes I was in, particularly Lytton and Shacken,” he said. “Shacken was a beautiful blend of recognizing the aboriginal background of the parish, and they are a very nice bunch of people to break bread with.”
The partnership has already seen a visit from Montreal Bishop Barry Clark, who attended a previous APCI assembly in 2011, and from a youth delegation from Montreal in 2012, while Healy-Morrow visited and preached at St. George’s Anglican Church in Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, with which her own congregation is paired, in 2014.
This summer the favour will be returned when the Rev. Neil Mancor, rector of St. George’s in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, diocese of Montreal, visits Healy-Morrow’s congregation at St. George’s Kamloops.