by Hollis Hiscock
The hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful, set the inspiring tone for the celebration of life service for Major The Reverend Canon Robert Joseph Fead.
The funeral service was held at Christ’s Church Cathedral Hamilton on Monday, May 7, 2018 — on the twenty-fourth anniversary of his priestly ordination.
Rob died in a motor vehicle collision on Monday, April 30, 2018.
Speaking for the family, Karrie Wickett told people crowded into the overflowing Cathedral Rob’s was “a life well lived”.
Major Carlo Tittarcelli of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada said Chaplain Rob related to all ranks of the military, showing kindness and empathy to everyone.
In his homily Bishop Ralph Spence described the first time Rob came to his office seeking to be a priest in the Anglican Church. “Moving from one denomination to another is never easy,” he said, “the church puts boulders in the way”. But Rob persisted and in 2002 he transferred Orders to Niagara Diocese.
He described Rob’s wife Veronica as the anchor that kept Rob’s sail tied to the ship.
He told the military personnel that they were blessed to have Major Rob as their Chaplain – being “called to serve”.
To Rob’s former parishioners, Bishop Ralph said you have lost a good shepherd who stood by you during difficult times, with prayer and humour.
“We are Easter people. The resurrection is with us. God is with us. God be praised,” concluded Bishop Ralph.
During the week after Rob’s death, Niagara’s Bishops Michael Bird and Susan Bell were constantly at St. Jude’s helping people deal with their grief and loss.
At a vigil held on Wednesday evening, May 2 at St. Jude’s, Bishop Michael reminded worshippers that during any tragedy we need to come together for strength and support. Bishop Susan told the congregation death is not the final word; when grief is too great for us, Jesus calls us to lay it on him. The bells tolled for Rob as people sat in silence. Afterwards, the two bishops comforted people as they left the church.
Following graduation from the University of Western Ontario, Rob was ordained priest in 1994 and ministered in several Roman Catholic Parishes in Hamilton Diocese before transferring to Niagara. Before becoming Rector of St. Jude’s Oakville, where he had served as Curate, he was Rector at St. George’s St. Catharines. He also served the Canadian Forces as Chaplain in the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service Ottawa.
Rob was a candidate in Niagara’s recent Episcopal election. He called the experience quite a journey and honour. “I am so happy for Bishop Elect Susan,” he wrote in the Niagara Anglican. “I have no doubt that her ministry among us and with us will be a tremendous blessing for the Diocese of Niagara.”
Veronica and Rob went skydiving on their first date. After 16 years of marriage he wrote, “Veronica makes me a better man and that makes me a better priest … I simply love you more than words can say! I am so very blessed.”