“When I was first ordained - I was a curate at Christ Church and so I visited some of the parishioners that were here at that time. But I was always so struck by how welcoming the community here was and how it was a real feeling of home, and it was just different from any of the other long term care facilities I had been at in the city. And now being the Spiritual Care Chaplain here formally, I love that this is one big community and the residents really have a voice in how that plays out. It’s just so unique and really just draws me to the community here.”
Even from her youth, Reverend Colleen has always had a real calling to be an active member within the diocese. As a teen she participated in summer camps and youth ministry and had contemplated being ordained. But it was teaching that drew her interest first. She got an education degree and taught for many years in Beaver Lake and on the Driftpile Reserve and then later taught many years in Wetaskiwin. While she had a few good years teaching, she’d also had years where she struggled. It was then that she went to Spain where she did the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and carried with her the question, “Should I consider leaving teaching? Where is God calling me?”
“Not long after I had got on the Camino, I had gone to an ordination, and in the Anglican church when someone is ordained, they lie prostrate on the ground. We then pray for the Holy Spirit to come and there is a moment of absolute silence in the church. And I heard God’s voice very clearly tell me, ‘Someday that will be you.’ I turned around to see who was behind me and there was no one there.”
It was a few years later, the Bishop out of the blue called Rev. Colleen and asked her what it was she wanted to do about teaching. She shared the story of how she heard God’s voice and the Bishop agreed she should apply to seminary.
She spent 3 years in seminary in Toronto and in that time, while training to be a priest she worked in hospital, she did inter-ministry in many communities after that and eventually found herself with a rectorship at St. Michael & All Angels Anglican Church in Edmonton. As part of her position there she visits and does communion for residents in 6 other long-term care centres.
“I just really enjoy doing ministry with seniors and have been really concerned with seniors and the pandemic and all the things that have gone on inside a lot of long term care facilities across Canada. I think seniors have an amazing life story and a gift to bring to the community and we often shut them away in long term care centres. I think it’s really important that there is someone who can hear their life stories. So when I saw the position here at Canterbury, I thought I could be of help and of service to the residents and the staff in a really difficult time.”
Since arriving at Canterbury, Reverend Colleen has spent her time visiting with the seniors to make sure they have a visitor everyday, to make sure they know they aren’t alone. She’s been able to be there for a family, who lost their mother unexpectedly and has plans to implement a brand new & uniquely designed worship service inside the brand new and expanded Canterbury Lane, where residents receive memory and dementia care support unlike anything else offered in Edmonton. She also hopes she can support the staff who have worked tirelessly through COVID restrictions and give them training to better prepare families for end of life conversation and experiences.