This week we feature CCS grad and Companion of the Centre, Elizabeth Brain. Elizabeth writes:
“Has God ever opened doors for me! In 1987 my life was in transition. There were so many questions and doubts. I was a cradle Anglican, a regular and engaged church member. I had been a physician in England where I was born and where my husband and I gave life to our three children.
We moved to Canada in 1969. My husband was now working at McMaster as a physician, our youngest child was 3, I was not qualified to practice as a doctor in Canada and there were no family supports. However quite out of the blue, I too was offered an exciting new job in the Medical Faculty developing learning resources for our innovative self directed, problem based program. As we were much in the eye of other schools we offered workshops on our educational methodology. One was even attended by a group from a theological school. By 1987 things were changing. The job was becoming less satisfying, computers were advancing as an educational tool and I knew I was not equipped to work in this field. How could I move forward?
Suddenly the University announced an advantageous early retirement package and I fell into the cohort by 1 month! Now what? I realized I had greatly missed contact with and caring for others, my faith was shaken but I felt called to a caring role in the church that supported lay participation both in and outside the church. I knew nothing about Diaconal Ministry! But co- attendees at a Discernment conference and also a respected clerical mentor both suggested CCS. I dashed down the QEW to Toronto to catch the deadline for admission and found myself a student at the Centre, commuting to 77 Charles Street where our class gathered in person.
You know how CCS shakes up your life in a wonderful way! Only now did I realize the theological group who had attended our McMaster workshop was from the Centre! I had encouraging teachers and fellow students, new and challenging experiences, expanding horizons and 4 Anglicans in our class. We remain friends and hope to attend the CCS Anniversary celebrations this fall. Suffice it to say, I discovered my call was to continuing healing but in a new way.
I found work as assistant chaplain at our local hospital supervised by the man who had previously been my mentor and who had unexpectedly made the move to hospital chaplaincy. But then we moved again, to Calgary, when my husband retired. Once again I was at a loss. But unbeknownst to me the church I settled into was thinking of starting a lay pastoral ministry. Two of us became the first lay pastoral ministers and I was able to have a part in both Pastoral Care and Outreach. I remain a lay pastoral minister working with sick people and seniors and have played a role in supporting diaconal ministry in the diocese. I am currently involved in designing and building a Labyrinth Garden as centennial project for our parish.
After CCS it is hard to give up the continuing support and many friendships. How wonderful it has been to play an ongoing part in the CCS community as a member of Central Council, Anglican Co-chair, committee member, interviewer, and as a participant in several Pastoral Care Learning Circles. That has been made possible, despite distance and like so many other changes the Centre has experienced, by our move to Winnipeg and by the advent of the very communications technology I had feared. What a privilege it has been.
I wonder what doors will open when I retire. In the meantime I am grateful for the paths that God has forged for me and for my
continuing association with CCS.” – Elizabeth Brain