29 Jun

Newsletter, June 29

Rev Sheelagh’s Sabbatical Notes – June 29, 2016

Reaping the harvest – Ten years on in the Diocese of Toronto.


Faced with declining numbers, and churches in the wrong places for urban regeneration, the Diocese of Toronto entered the Missional field about ten years ago.  It has been a fascinating journey, one of ups and downs, successes and challenges.  My visit there as part of my sabbatical time, was to listen and observe what is happening in the kingdom now. Continue reading

22 Jun

Newsletter, June 22

Rev Sheelagh’s Sabbatical Thoughts from Holy Cross Monastery

The title on this page is also a link to a longer post from Rev Sheelagh on her experiences at the Holy Cross Monastery.

Sabbatical Prayer

Gracious God, in you we live and move and have our being: We pray that you guide Rev. Sheelagh during this intentional Sabbath time.  May she return to St. Stephen’s restored in body, mind and spirit.  We also pray that you bless this parish and all who come here.  May we carry out with joy the ministries to which we are called.  May this also be a time of intentional prayer and reflection for us. By your Spirit, empower all to be strengthened by the gifts you give and to be renewed as servants of God.  Amen.

Continue reading

20 Jun

Sabbatical Thoughts from Holy Cross Monastery – June 19, 2016

These first few weeks have been about letting things go and allowing a change of pace to evolve. My vacation time was wonderful, but full of celebrations, excitement, hospitality, organization, travel schedules, packing, unpacking and repacking, moving out of accommodation, moving Jess back into home etc., etc.


Coming here to Holy Cross provides a different canvas. First, for me it is a “home” place. I have been coming here for almost twenty years, and been an Associate here (which means I pledge and have a Rule of Life approved by the monastery) for about fifteen. I know the rhythms, the creaks, the smells and they are comfortingly familiar. The Amtrak train hoots on its way up to Canada, and that holds a special memory for me as my mother, sister and the two grandchildren, once took an amazing train trip to Niagara Falls on that very train. My family loved it and I can still remember pointing out Holy Cross Monastery on the other bank of the Hudson.


It always amazes me how time changes here. I have no choice but to believe that time is elastic and bends. The first few hours pass so very slowly, but then the deep silence of the place, and the languid waters of the river Hudson, moves me into a different plane, where the hours are counted not in minutes, but in the Office bells. The Deep Silence is punctuated by services that are held throughout the day. Beginning with Matins at 7am (the birds on my windowsill have naturally woken me with their clamoring dawn chorus at about 5:30am as the sun rose) which is the Morning Prayer of the offices. At 9am we have a very simple Eucharist, followed at noon by Diurnum, or noonday prayer. At 5pm we sing Vespers (Evening Prayer) and at 8:10pm is Compline. There is no preaching, but the services follow the daily office lectionary. The services are sung, and there is wonderful chanting by the monks of the psalms. In the deep silence of a retreat, the only words uttered are those of prayer and worship. You can get a feel for all this on www.missionstclare.com, or install the Mission St Clare app on your smartphone. Of course, you can also use the Book of Common Prayer. All the offices are there – beginning on page 75 (for Rite 2), and the scripture lessons are listed on page 934ff – we are in Year 2. I have to confess that I like the online versions best. If you want Celtic versions, then sign up for the Northumbria Community Daily Offices www.northumbriacommunity.org.


I invite you to join me in the spiritual practices of saying the daily offices at some point while I am on Sabbatical. This is your opportunity to go deeper too. If they are on your smartphone, you can listen to them on the train on your way to work, or at the beach. Alternatively, borrow a prayer book for the summer, and bring it back in the fall. They really do reframe the day and provide a different lens through which to live and move and have our being, and I wish you the joy of knowing God in a deeper more regular rhythm.+

16 Jun

Newsletter, June 15

Thought for the Week: June 15, 2016

By Janet Hager

I had something very different in mind for this week’s thought for the week and then the awful news of the massacre in Orlando happened.  I went to bed on Saturday night and I left my cell phone and iPad downstairs.  Leaving our electronics downstairs at night has become a household practice to work towards a better night’s sleep.  On Sunday morning, while Chris was getting ready for the 8:00 am service, I went downstairs and checked my phone and saw my news alerts.  A mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, 20 dead many others injured.  My heart stopped.  I turned on the news only to see that the numbers had grown to 50 dead and 53 injured.  I could not believe what I was hearing and seeing, another senseless mass shooting.  It all just seemed too much.  The number of people hurt and dead and the thought of the hate that must have been in this person’s soul it was and still is too much.  Too much hate! Too much violence! Too much pain! Too much grief! What can we do? What can I do? Pray? Prayer can be a comfort; but there is something just as powerful as prayer and that is LOVE. Continue reading

09 Jun

Newsletter, June 8

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: June 8, 2016

Boy is it hard to disengage!  I have found myself in this first week of sabbatical struggling to stay away and out of things.  I knew it would be hard, but silly as it sounds it’s harder than I expected.  I spent week one trying to do different things. Being quiet, reading a lot, walking my 10,000 steps first thing in the morning. Today,  I encountered a male buck. He was young, his antlers still velvety, tall as me, yet with,  it seems, no fear at all.  Still, proud, curious, beautiful.  The camera shot startled him and quick as a flash he was gone, but it was a glimpse of glory, deep in the dappled shadows.  And I give thanks for that Glory, as should we all. Continue reading