The Rev. Augusto Nunez is the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour, Orono.
One of the highlights of my ministry came when I was appointed priest-in-charge at St. Saviour’s in Orono. Although I had held positions in ministry, this was my first time leading a group of parishioners. It has been a blessing integrating myself into the community of Orono through visitation, our outreach activities and fundraising events. St. Saviour’s incorporates into its vision the Five Marks of Mission, including outreach to the Indigenous community and, in 2017, to the migrant farm workers in the area.
My involvement with the ministry to migrant farm workers began three years ago at St. Paul, Beaverton. In 2017, the ministry was extended to the farms in and around Bowmanville and Orono. We introduced services for the workers every Sunday afternoon from the middle of July to the end of September. We alternated between St. John, Bowmanville and St. Saviour, Orono. Our collaboration with farm owners, social agencies and medical staff have enriched and developed our outreach to the workers. Many are extremely grateful for all that the Church does for them and for the spiritual support they have received. We are grateful to the diocese for its support and for the help of the Rev. Canon Christopher Greaves, the Rev. Canon Ted McCullough and the volunteers of both churches who are so willing to help.
My involvement in this work is a response to the call of God in my life. He has called me to serve in his Church, and therefore I find great fulfillment in preaching, teaching and serving others. My vision is to help them to know Christ and to equip the Church to reach others with his love. I believe in the transformative power of God’s Spirit in our lives and the hope that he gives in this life and the one to come. Therefore, I am compelled to share this love of Christ with all – either with my parishioners, seasonal migrant workers, the poor and the rich. We all need Christ.
In retrospect, my training as a soccer coach, a community chaplain and my ability to communicate in English and Spanish, has facilitated me to be of service in my current position. I believe this is amazing and sometimes unbelievable, and I can say with certainty that God uses the gifts that you have for his purposes as you put yourself in his hands. Of course, there are challenges and growing pains in ministry. For example, it was discouraging when we saw our numbers decrease for the services in Bowmanville in September, only to discover that during harvest the workers are busy and sometimes too tired to come to our services. Therefore, during these times, we proposed to go to them and hold the services on the farms.
I was born in Peru, in a city called Callao, one of the largest port cities in the country. After my parents separated, my mom emigrated to Canada in the early ’70s and sent for my two sisters and myself. We arrived in Toronto when I was in my preteen years. I was delighted to come to this new country with the new opportunities that it offered for my future, but it was not easy for me to witness the separation of my parents, be uprooted from family and friends and learn a second language. Before ordination, I spent some time in Johnstown, Pennsylvania working as a trainee counselor for Peniel, a residential Christian Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation program. Residents were taught Christian biblical principles to live by and healthy alternatives to combat the destructive habits of drug addiction. Many of the clients were from large cities – New York, Philadelphia and Washington – and the objective was to relocate them to a small rural town where they could focus on rehabilitation.
I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in Peru. My grandmother was a significant influence in my life. She took me to church when I was very young. These services made a big impression on me because I was introduced to a God that had shown his love for me by sending his Son to be my Saviour and Redeemer. In my teenage years, my faith in God became alive by the working of his Holy Spirit, and it was at this point that I decided to pursue theological studies. In my late twenties, I married my beautiful wife Jacqueline and started Bible College in Peterborough. We raised our four boys in Peterborough, and I finished my MDiv at Wycliffe College. Subsequently, I worked as a community chaplain but was drawn to parish ministry. With my Anglican training, and having a wife who was Anglican, I applied for ordination in the Anglican Church, and the rest is history.
Looking ahead, I hope to have the ministry to migrant workers more established and in other areas in the region. Furthermore, I intend to apply the knowledge I learned in a program to see how best to reach out to the unchurched, the broken and those who feel marginalized by society.
My favourite passage from scripture is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God loves us and all his creation; I am humbled that he has chosen me to play a part in this great plan of salvation.