Martha Tatarnic – Pastoral Care Coordinator
I have had many occasions since my appointment to St. Hilda’s on September 15th to brag about St. Jude’s. Now that I am the part-time priest-in-charge in this unusual ministry setting, I am invited to many more diocesan meetings than I ever have been in the past. At synod council meetings, Mission Strategies meetings, and various other gatherings of diocesan staff, I have been able to share the good news that in the midst of a very unfortunate situation, the community of St. Jude’s has stepped up to the plate in a remarkable way to demonstrate true Christian generosity, neighbourliness, and vision.
I am sure St. Jude’s parishioners are well-meaning decent people. Which means they have been conned by the Diocese of Niagara: through the latest court ruling, St. Hilda’s, ANiC has no access to its church building during the times it conducts its Sunday services. St. Jude’s parishioners – who already have their own building – in a spirit of ‘true Christian generosity, neighbourliness’, have set up camp in St. Hilda’s building, displacing its rightful owners. Parishioners of St. Jude’s: you are being used by the diocese in their bid to steal our building.
When I started in September, there actually was no ‘remnant.’ There was one woman worshipping there regularly who is a chaplain in Hamilton and who decided to come to St. Hilda’s following the split to see if she could offer some ministry to the parish. I literally was sent to a parish with no people.
Thank you, Martha for admitting that the Diocese of Niagara has no use for this building – other than to sell it.
And not only does the church have no people, it also has a building that is tied up in an ugly law suit between the Network and the Diocese and is therefore essentially being treated like the child of a divorce, with specific terms of joint custody laid, which each party is required to follow to the letter.
The law suit was instigated by the diocese. We, St. Hilda’s ANiC, have made repeated overtures to the diocese to settle this out of court. The response has been consistent: the diocese wants to see this ‘played out in court’. So, yes, it is ugly; and the author of that ugliness is your employer, Martha.
It paints a rather bleak picture, doesn’t it? From the second that my appointment became public, however, St. Jude’s has joined me in my new ministry.
The ‘new ministry’ is that of playing pawn in the vindictive game of ‘persecute the Christians’ that the diocese is engaged in.
It is a heartbreaking loss to our communion that St. Hilda’s and three other parishes in this diocese believe they can no longer walk with us in the journey of faith.
Funny, the diocesan hearts I saw in the courtroom didn’t appear that broken to me; I did note a certain level of frustration, though.
The particular ‘journey of faith’ that the Diocese of Niagara has embarked on is one where it has departed from the Christian faith; so, no, we cannot accompany you.
And yet, despite that total breakdown of the principles of Christian community, week by week, there is ‘Church’ – in the widest sense of the word – happening in this parish building.
No, it is not ‘Church’ that is taking place in St. Hilda’s building: it is a dog-in-the manger occupation.
I will say though, that as difficult as it is for me to leave, it is time. I have had the privilege of being here a great deal longer than assistant curates typically stay in one place, and it is without a doubt my time now to assume leadership in my own parish. At this point, it looks like there are two appealing and viable options for where that ministry might take place starting in January. I hope to know in the next few weeks which of those two places God will lift up as being the one for me at this time. It is no secret that one of those two places might very well be St. Hilda’s.
Martha: you cannot possibly be so callow as to think that the diocese will keep this building open for your current bogus congregation. If the enticement the diocese has offered you is that of parish priest at St. Hilda’s, you have been deceived; if the diocese wins the building, it will be sold to help pay its mounting debt.
However, if you persist in the delusion that the parish of St. Hilda’s will be your reward, please contact me as I am trying to sell a used car.