Beauty breaks me wide open to God

Headshot of the Rev. Louise Peters.
The Rev. Louise Peters in St. James Cathedral.
 on March 1, 2018
Michael Hudson

The Rev. Louise Peters is the vicar of St. James Cathedral.  

As vicar, I am a member of the clergy team and share in leadership in the rich liturgical life of the cathedral as a preacher, presider and officiant. I work with the cathedral guilds:  the Altar Guild and Servers Guild, in addition to the Health Council, the Lay Pastoral Visitors Team, the Outreach Committee and the communications department. The vicar has a quiet role of doing the background detail work for liturgical services – daily worship and larger diocesan events. The vicar provides support to help others pray well. I currently supervise and mentor two curates and one theological student. The vicar provides support to the dean and other members of staff, and is a pastor to the cathedral. What I do most is pray. This duty is a joy.

I am preparing to facilitate “Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John” with a small group of others from the cathedral during Lent. I love small circles gathered around scripture. I am excited to return to this spiritual discipline. I am also preparing for a Lenten Quiet Day focusing on prayer, privacy and the practice of spending time in solitude. I am also working with my colleague James as we prepare and put together his ordination to the priesthood service.

The best part of my job is the people with whom I am privileged to work. They are extraordinary – dedicated, diverse, capable and kind. The cathedral staff and all our volunteers are amazing. They have been graciously hospitable to me as the new vicar. It is hard to name just one “best”. Seeing children at the altar rail and having that lovely moment of a shared blessing – this makes me so happy. The list could go on and on. Being surrounded by the exquisite sound of the cathedral choir – that is the best, too. Beauty breaks me wide open to God. The worst part: Keeping my desk tidy. I have such hopes, and I fail at this daily.

I was born in Mississippi, and my family came to Canada when I was three years old. We settled in London, Ontario, where I grew up and attended all of my schooling (except for the first year of my Masters degree). We were members of St. Paul’s Cathedral, attending sporadically during my childhood. However, on Sunday in my mid teens, I found the beauty of the ritual and music drew me. I joined the Servers Guild and began, unknowingly at the time, a journey in faith and prayer. I recall serving in 1976 at the first ordination of a woman priest in the diocese where the Rev. Mary Mills, a long serving deacon, was finally made priest. The dean at the time took me aside before the service and said kindly, “Pay attention.” Over time, I was encouraged by other mentors and clergy to consider pursuing theological study with the intent to seek ordination.

I was ordained in 1985 in the Diocese of Huron, serving first as the assistant to the dean at St. Paul’s Cathedral, then appointed as the chaplain of Huron College and the University of Western Ontario and incumbent of the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist. I then became rector of St. James in Ingersoll, Ontario. I left that ministry and went on an extended parental leave for five years, welcoming three children into the world. During this time, I was an honorary assistant at Bishop Cronyn Memorial, in addition to doing private spiritual direction work. Next, my husband and I ventured west and shared ministry as co-rectors of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church 100 Mile House, B.C., in the Diocese of Cariboo, where we were privileged to work with Bishop James Cruickshank. I then became the dean of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior and rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kamloops, where I served for 12 years. Then came a term as the executive director of the Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre in Sorrento, B.C.

Throughout my ministry, I have tried to achieve a spiritual discipline of prayer. What brings me joy is seeing people engage deeply with scripture and discover that they are theologians.

My favourite passage from scripture is Matthew 13:45: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, the merchant went and sold everything and bought it.” I find that this passage holds for me the message about the journey: that the search and the finding is the Way and that when the sought-for pearl of beauty and value is found, it is worth my all. Keep searching, keep finding, and keep giving up all for this Holy Way – this Kingdom of God.


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