By Gisele McKnight
A highlight of the year and a celebration of new ministry takes place Sunday, June 26 at Christ Church Cathedral. At 4 p.m., Bishop David Edwards will ordain the following candidates: Brenda Fowler to the vocational diaconate; David Alston, Kevin McAllister, Daniel McMullen and David Peer to the transitional diaconate; and Ann Fairweather and Thomas Nisbett as priests. In addition, Neil Osiowy’s Orders will be received.
The Rev. Allen Tapley, priest and rector in the Parish of Waterford and St. Marks, will preach at the service. A reception will follow at Cathedral Memorial Hall.
“Ordination is a vitally important step for anyone called,” said Bishop David. “A priest is called by God but also by the church. Therefore the ministry is one of service — both to God and to the people of God.
“We celebrate that. For the diocese it means a sign of new life,” he said.
The bishop is thrilled to welcome the eight and recognizes what this sacrament means to the diocese.
“It will certainly lead to new ideas in our parishes and beyond,” he said. “Ordination should be a joyful occasion for all, and certainly it is for me.”
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To the priesthood: Ann Fairweather and Thomas Nisbett Jr.
Ann Fairweather has spent the last nine months as deacon in the Parish of Restigouche.
“It was quite an adjustment, moving from Quispamsis to Campbellton,” said Ann, adding that two weeks into her new role, her father died suddenly.
But along with her husband, Scott, she got to know the parish and its three congregations, whom she describes as “very supportive and encouraging.”
“That has helped in shaping our ministry here together thus far,” she said. “I’m quite familiar with the people in the congregations and now, the people who are shut-in.”
The parish was without a priest for some time, and the strong group of lay leaders there has been a great support to Ann.
“Now we’re focusing on missions in the church and beyond, to the community. I have a great sense of purpose here.”
Ann serves the congregations of St. Andrew’s in Robinsonville, Christ Church in Campbellton and St. Mary’s in Dalhousie. She will be inducted as rector in the fall.
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Thomas Nisbett, 56, has spent the last year as deacon and assistant curate in the Parishes of Waterford & St. Marks in Sussex Corner. And with his priestly ordination not far off, he is introspective about the past 12 months.
“It’s been a wonderful year. I love this place and the people,” he said. “I believe I am quite fortunate to have been posted here with Allen (the Rev. Allen Tapley).
“This place has taught me a lot about ministry and myself. I think my ministry will be better for it.
“I really appreciate Allen’s leadership to help me understand things you don’t understand until you’re on the ground. Having a mentor is really important.”
It’s been 10 years since Thomas stopped running from God and got serious about his calling.
“I resisted it,” he said. “I had other things to do. But the Lord keeps pulling until you listen.”
His ‘other things’ included serving as a senior policy advisor for the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce and as director of marketing and corporate development for Malley Industries in Dieppe, which customizes vehicles to become ambulances and police cruisers.
Thomas graduated from Atlantic School of Theology in 2015. His father is Canon Thomas Nisbett, now retired and serving as honorary assistant in the Parish of Pembroke in the Diocese of Bermuda.
Thomas Jr. and wife Colleen run a horse farm in Boundary Creek, outside Moncton. He is awaiting an appointment to a parish.
“Wherever Jesus sends me, he is already there working,” said Thomas. “My job is to work together with the congregation to discern where Jesus is calling us.”
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To the Vocational Diaconate: Brenda Fowler
Brenda Fowler believes she heard God’s voice when she was 14. But like many, she didn’t respond right away.
“I always knew God wanted me to do something outside my comfort zone, and here I am 40 years later,” she said.
In the intervening years, she’s been a wife, mother, grandmother, secretary and entrepreneur, and in a few days, a deacon.
There is some irony in her becoming a deacon. She told a person that she felt she had a calling and their response was ‘what do you want to do?’ Out of her mouth came the word deacon, even though she didn’t even know what a deacon was.
“We didn’t have any deacons, but when the person left, it was like my eyes were open. The word just wouldn’t leave me.”
Brenda will continue in the parishes of Upham and Central Kings, doing Bible study and visiting, and this fall, working on a joint offering of Alpha with a Baptist church in Bloomfield. She works under Archdeacon Rob Marsh.
• • •
To the Transitional Diaconate: David Alston, David Peer, Kevin McAllister and Daniel McMullen
David Alston has held just about every position at St. Philip’s in Moncton: member of vestry, layreader, synod delegate and warden.
It was at a diocesan synod about five years ago that he saw a display about the diaconate and decided to explore it further. That little display was the catalyst for the big step he is taking on Sunday.
Two years ago, he retired from working in civil aviation for Transport Canada. Since then, he’s been at the Moncton Food Centre working on the Fresh For Less project, where fresh fruits and vegetables are bought in bulk and resold at warehouse prices to those in need.
“I feel I am called to work in the area of food security,” he said.
He will continue to serve at St. Philip’s.
• • •
David Peer, 55, is also at the beginning of a second career. His first, up until May of this year, was as a naval architect in the Royal Canadian Navy, designing and building warships. His rank upon retirement was commander.
David was a teenager when he felt God’s call, and 30 years later, God was back with the same message. He was living in Ottawa at the time, “and my parish helped me discern that I should be looking at ordination.”
He was soon stationed in Halifax, the perfect city to study for a Masters of Divinity. With Bishop Claude Miller’s direction, he began studying at AST while still in the RCN. He graduated last year.
He and his wife, Minna, will move to his hometown of Saint John where he will serve at All Saints in the Parish of East Saint John.
“We’re in it as a team,” said David of Minna. “I wouldn’t have done this without her support.”
At his ordination will be his parents, Gerry and Pat Peer, who worship at the Church of the Resurrection in Grand Bay.
David is doubly happy to be in Saint John, where he can indulge his passion for sailing.
• • •
It was a winding path that has led Kevin McAllister to the diaconate. The 51-year-old retired from the Air Force (403 Squadron) as an aircraft technician, but God had non-retirement plans for him.
“I always knew, even when I was a child, but I kind of ran from it,” said Kevin of his calling. “Then I stopped running. You can only run for so long.”
It was his son’s birth in 2004 that sealed his fate.
“I watched the birth of my son, and I came home that evening and I knew it was time. God and I had a nice, long talk that night. I agreed to stop running.”
He began distance education for his Masters in Divinity, which took six years. During that time he has also been a full-time employee and a student assistant with the Rev. Canon Walter Williams in the Parish of Oromocto and Maugerville.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better support than Walter Williams,” said Kevin. “I was very fortunate that we met and he was willing to help me.”
Kevin, his wife Theresa and their son live in Hanwell. July 1, Kevin will take on a shared ministry role in the Parishes of Marysville and Minto & Chipman.
• • •
At 24, Dan McMullen is the youngest of the ordinands. He is almost finished an MDiv degree from Wycliffe in Toronto, including a course in hospital chaplaincy this summer.
The Saint John native has some home-grown clergy mentoring from his father, the Rev. Chris McMullen, priest and rector at Church of the Good Shepherd in the Parish of Lancaster.
He is thankful for his devout parents, in whom he sees “the hope, love and joy a relationship with Jesus brings,” he said.
But Dan hadn’t always wanted to join the clergy. In fact, he earned a BSc in math and statistics from the University of New Brunswick (Saint John). During his studies, he worked in youth ministry and that became the favourite part of his week. Realizing where his heart was, he took a new path.
“I am looking forward to starting my life in full-time ministry, and moving back to New Brunswick,” he said. “I miss the people there.”
He worked the last two summers at Camp Medley, and “I’m a little jealous that I’m not there this summer!”
His appointment will be announced at a later date.
• • •
Orders to be received: Neil Osiowy
Neil Osiowy also took a winding path to the Anglican priesthood, which included a six-year stop as a Roman Catholic priest.
A native of Regina, Sask., Neil served in three parishes in Saskatchewan: Regina, the Holdfast Pastoral Region and Moose Jaw.
He met his future wife, Deborah, a native of New Brunswick, in 2008.
“I left ministry in 2010. I wanted to pursue a relationship with Deborah.”
They have been in Riverview for several years. God used their next door neighbour, who invited them to Christmas Eve dinner — and the service that evening at St. John the Baptist — to plant the seed in Neil’s mind that the Anglican Church might be the right place for him.
“Over a couple of years, I realized I was missing ministry,” said Neil. “I thought maybe I could be a married clergy.”
He contacted Archdeacon Brent Ham, who explained the process. Neil and Deborah began attending St. John the Baptist, and since 2013, Neil has been working on the transition, with the help of Bishop Claude, Bishop David, Archdeacon Brent, and the Rev. Dr. Ranall Ingalls in Sackville.
“I can’t say enough about the love and support of many, many people, especially my wife. Deborah’s been so supportive,” he said. “This has been an exciting journey we’ve done together. We come from different backgrounds but faith is a part of our lives. This has been a faith journey together.”
“Whatever parish gets him is going to love him,” said Archdeacon Brent Ham. “He’s so down to earth.
“He’s been a leader in our Bible studies,served on vestry and has been active in our worship. We’re going to miss him.”
This summer, Neil will fill in for a few weekends in the Parish of Westmorland.
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Everyone is invited to attend the ordination. If previous ordinations are any indication, it’s best to come early for a seat. Refreshments and the bishop’s introductions of the ordinands and their families will take place at Cathedral Memorial Hall after the service.