Goodness, it has been an action-packed few months. St. Francis Seminary, our virtual hallowed-halled sacred space has started the summer programme of preparing deacons and priests for November ordinations in our church, and with every month that goes by, more Lay Pastoral Chaplains are coming forward for training.
Let me talk a little about the Chaplain’s course. I usually write a little reflection in this blog, but I want to take a little departure and share a little about what I have been doing with the church. I feel so blessed by those who are coming forward to study with us!
We all know people who are helpers in our communities. There are those who are involved in outreach to the homeless, running hospital gift shops, driving people to medical appointments, helping with fundraising for any number of good causes… These folks have the heart of service. From their own experience they’ve come to know how rewarding it is to give back and assist where they can. Sometimes it is through a church-affiliated group but often, they just want to help.
Not everyone wishes to be ordained, so the Lay Pastoral Chaplain course offers a way for caring people to be recognized in the community as a Chaplain and, we also appoint them to officiate weddings in the Province of Ontario.
The ability to perform weddings helps our church and it helps the officiant. We are an inclusive, progressive community and we believe strongly that God loves everyone equally. Our chaplains and clergy perform same-gender marriages as a normal part of our ministry.
We uphold everyone’s right to marry the person they love, regardless of orientation.
We are certainly a part of the greater catholic church, but our community is based on the commandments of Jesus and not the dictates of human voices through the centuries. I often get chastised because “we do not follow Church teachings, yet we call ourselves catholic.” Yes – but we are not Roman, we are part of the Old Catholic church- a group of clergy and bishops who pulled away from the Roman Church in the 1800s.
Like the Anglicans, we do not follow the Pope (although we adore Pope Francis) and we do not follow Roman Catholic doctrine. We follow Jesus and uphold his commandment to love one another. It is that simple.
There are several companies in Ontario that give interested people training and a license. They have helped many people create a wedding business to provide a second income or assist financially. I want to draw a distinction. We are a recognized church and our focus is helping people in their ministries. As a chaplain, there are monthly reports to fill out – reflecting on charitable and spiritual work that was carried out. And, chaplains report weddings that they have done and send along a tithe to the church. After the initial registration and training fee, that is it.
Our chaplains are nurses, teachers, retired people, folks who work their day jobs but often volunteer in their communities as scout and guide leaders, hospital visitors, soup kitchen workers, who want to make the world a better place…. people like you.
Our next onsite session is her in Niagara on the Lake on August 28th. Our two-night distance training course takes place on Aug 15 and 16. If you are outside of Ontario, write and we’ll set some training dates.
I also want to stress that because we are a church, we want this to be a joyful thing and not a hardship financially. There are payment arrangements available. 🙂
For more information, please visit http://www.stfrancisseminary.com/lay-pastoral-chaplaincy
Have a great rest of the weekend, everyone!