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Saying goodbye to our Vicar, Father Allen

On Saturday, January 28,  the St. Thomas community held a special luncheon to celebrate, express gratitude, and say farewell to our Vicar, Fr. Allen Doerksen. Both Fr. Allen and Rev. Denise Doerksen are about to embark on a new adventure as they each take over ministries in the Victoria area.

People came out in force to share a special luncheon coordinated by Irene Tisdale and her team. All were given the opportunity to share their thoughts, memories, wishes, and feelings. There was plenty of joy and laughter, along with some inevitable sadness.

Rev. Lorie Martin officiated the event, and her words of wisdom and loving prayers lent spiritual insight and comfort. This is but another step in the process of letting go of Fr. Allen’s ministry and leadership to embrace a new ministry and leader. Though we all realize how much we will miss both Fr. Allen and Rev. Denise, we are truly happy for them and send love and prayers for them in their new parishes. Fortunately, our clergy friends are only a ferry ride away, so our paths may yet cross again.

We concluded the event with a circle of love and prayer, led by Rev. Lorie, reminded that we too are about to embark on a new adventure, as we carry the many gifts of Father Allen’s ministry with us as we move forward. We also owe our love and gratitude to Rev. Denise for her amazing work in coordinating our revitalized Children’s Ministry. St. Thomas has much to build upon thanks to you both!

Father Allen’s last service at St. Thomas will be on Sunday, February 12. Please feel free to drop off your cards and letters by that date. They will mean so much to Fr Allen.

(See photo video at the bottom of this page.)

Father Allen’s Remarks at Farewell Lunch at St. Thomas

I want to thank-you for the privilege of serving among you for the last half-decade. Our relationship has evolved from my assignment to be an intentional interim, to being your talking head on a screen during the pandemic to being your Vicar in these last couple of years.

I’m deeply grateful for all the people I’ve had the privilege of getting to know during my time here, though as things go, being a half-time in two places doesn’t always afford the depth of relationship that one might hope for. 

You’ve been gracious about that. I want to thank all of you who have participated in our common prayer and life. We search together and, strangely, expect to find, “the deepest freshness, deep down things,” as the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote. 

We engage together in a common quest for meaning, belonging, and service because we believe God created and loves everything and everyone, and because we believe this, we believe that there is hope for everything and everyone.  All manner of thing… as Lorie mentioned in her remarks.

I want to thank all who have served and do serve in this parish.  No community can survive let alone grow without sacrificial service.  Sometimes that service feels like a burden and yet you engage it believing that you’re helping craft a legacy for whoever comes next. And you are!

To the Wardens and assistants who have been my closest collaborators and teammates, thanks for your work, a work that never ends, whether it’s dealing with false alarms at 4 am or, brace yourself, dealing with rats in the church (this coming Monday’s task!)

Ministry is not often glamorous as we all discover over time; it’s about clearing rubble out of the way so that the people who are just starting to be part of this community are not unduly put off by the strangeness and ineptitude of community life; it’s about making some sort of space so that more of us can continue the quest together.


Being a priest is a strange affair.  Often, when I’m out and about, people will ask, after looking at my grey hair, “so, how long have you been retired?” After saying, “no, I’m not retired, I’m still gainfully employed,” the inevitable follow up is “well, what do you do?”

When I say “I’m an Anglican Priest” there is usually a blank stare or a looking away; then, in an almost desperate attempt to keep the conversation going the person may say something like, “I had an aunt who was an Anglican!”

Sure, some of them probably think, “great, another person who tells people to engage their imaginary friend, and they get paid for it!”

But most people, even people in touch with their spiritual side, simply draw a blank when I say “I’m an Anglican priest.”  This is not from a lack of an intelligence, it’s all about the kind of society we’ve crafted.

When people ask “what do you do?” the emphasis is on the word “do.” When I answer “I am an Anglican Priest” the emphasis is on the word “am.” Therein lies the difficulty. Our society has crafted a definition of work that is summarized by the “to do list.” My work is to be and become a certain type of person; I have the vocation of being.

As I never tire of saying at council meetings and in emails, even if those hearing the words or receiving the emails may tire of them, “in the church it’s not only what we do, but just as importantly, how we do them.”

“My life among you” is a fair summary of what any priest can honestly say when asked about their accomplishments, that even if there are remarkable accomplishments!

To the degree that I have lived among you in a way that says I believe in you, hope for you and pray for you I have reflected a tiny shard of God’s faithfulness and love. To the degree that I haven’t I ask your prayers and forgiveness.

The difference between being identified more by who we are than what we do is not meant to contrast opposites, because both are important, that’s why we talk about “how we do things.”

But I hope in a world in which more and more of our time is taken up with “staying one step ahead of the pack,” where we feel pressure to “do the things that will fulfill us,” that being part of this community helps us encounter a faithful God who before we do anything is already fulfilling us, already saying “I love you as you are,” and if you do anything may it all be so that deep freshness cures the souls of all who come.

Thanks for letting me be a part of that for a few years.