I wouldn’t trade where I am for anything else

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 on October 1, 2018

The Rev. Roshni Jayawardena is the assistant curate at Church of the Redeemer, Bloor Street in Toronto.

As the assistant curate, I am trying to learn as much as I can about the parish’s life and the roles and responsibilities of a priest. I am involved in several of the Redeemer’s ministries, including outreach, liturgical planning, pastoral care, discipleship and parish administration. My position also has a particular focus on “Redeemer Kids” and their families. This gives me the privilege of walking alongside these individuals and groups on their faith journeys and nurturing their presence in the parish. I am involved in church school planning, times of fellowship and learning for families, baptism preparation and more. No day is ever the same!

The Rev. Roshni Jayawardena

Outside of the Redeemer, I have been invited to become a member of the executive of the Trinity Divinity Associates, an association for alumni of Trinity College’s faculty of divinity. This group works to bring together current students, graduates, faculty members and friends. My time at Trinity College was so formative, as I was able to learn, ask questions, and get great experiences in ministry. I look forward to contributing to the Trinity College community in this new way.

One of the main things I have been working on over the summer and am excited for is the launch of Redeemer’s church school program. Although the program has existed for a long time, this year myself and the leadership team are very focussed on exploring new approaches to learning to connect with the young people in our midst. The program has us teaching in new and innovative ways and working to involve Redeemer’s kids more in our Sunday celebrations as they find their place in the larger community. It’s a very exciting time as we are learning and preparing for the future of Redeemer’s children’s ministry.

The best part of my job is working with such a faithful, dedicated and talented team of people. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to learn from each one of them as they share their gifts and talents with me. The staff and the lay leadership at Redeemer have taught me, encouraged me, and given me times of joy and laughter that truly make me love being part of our community.

The hardest part of my job right now is the sheer volume of information I am trying to take in. Working full time in a parish is still a bit of a shock to my system, as I learn more and more about budgets, building maintenance, and all of the ministries at Redeemer. It can be a bit overwhelming at times! Luckily, everyone has been so welcoming and patient as I learn the ins and outs of my role. Even on my hardest days I wouldn’t trade where I am for anything else.

I was born and raised in Mississauga and continue to love living there. My parents, both from Sri Lanka, taught my sister and I a lot about religious diversity growing up, as they are an interfaith couple. My mom is Christian, my dad Buddhist, and my grandmother, who also lived with us, is Hindu. We certainly learned a lot! My family’s faithful and open attitude towards religion was the norm for me. Today it is also a perspective that I am so grateful for, especially as my fiancé, Farhaz, and I prepare for our own interfaith marriage.

I completed my undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University, with a double major in communications and political science, and a minor in women and gender studies. I went on to complete a post graduate certificate at Humber College in event management and worked in corporate event management before pursuing my Master of Divinity. It was during my time at Trinity College that I finally responded to my call to ordination, one that I think had been there for a while. It has been a bit of a winding journey, but I continue to tell my parents that my event management degree and experience will never go to waste in the Church!

I grew up as a chorister at St. Peter, Erindale, and this really began my faith formation and helped me to feel a sense of belonging in my church community. My spiritual journey went through trials in my teen years, and I briefly left the Church as I was challenged in my faith and questioned the type of God that existed. Despite these challenges, I always continued to pray and reflect on the scriptures, and eventually came back to the Church with a faithfulness that was deeper and truly my own.

An important moment as I discerned my call towards ordination was the encouragement and affirmation of my community. In times where I struggled to believe I was called, or was enough to fulfill my call, my community and mentors encouraged me that God called me as I was, not as a new and improved version. It was largely this affirmation that gave me the confidence to listen and respond to my call to ordained ministry. Many people and events along my spiritual journey have taught me about myself and helped me to grow in life and faith. I still struggle in my spiritual journey from time to time, but my journey thus far has taught me to have trust in God’s plan, and the self-confidence to follow it.

Five years from now I hope to be getting more involved and connected with our diocese’s interfaith work. My interfaith background and reality is one that shapes me and has deepened my understanding of God. Consequently, I hope that one day I can help foster and deepen interfaith conversations and connections our diocese has in the community.

My favourite passage from scripture is 1 Corinthians 13:13. This verse is part of a passage that is usually read at weddings, but I started reflecting on it as I discerned ordination. In those moments, I didn’t understand this passage as describing the love between a couple. I thought to myself: If this is what the Christian life is about, what my ministry could be about and come out of, I could do this. I felt called to faith, hope and love. In this passage, Paul is discussing the meaning, purpose and necessity of love within the Corinth Christian community. It is a love that is not necessarily about a couple, but rather radical communal love that unites differences. It is the words faith, hope and love that I work to abide by. It is these three words that I work to ground my ministry in and help me to embrace and know that I am God’s child, and I am called to lead in God’s church, united with all of God’s people.


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