A letter from Cuba — 
written before leaving Canada

Dean Cormack

The Reverend Dean Cormack, Rector of St. John’s Winona and Chaplain at San Gabriel Hamilton, was granted a leave of absence (up to six months — he began November 1, 2018) to seize an international mission opportunity serving the Bishop and Diocese of Cuba as a volunteer. Dean plans to write regularly from Cuba for the Niagara Anglican.

Dear Niagara Anglican reader:

In 2015 I was able to do a ministerial internship in Cuba working under the direction of Bishop Griselda, the Bishop of Cuba. Throughout my four months there, I was exposed to many experiences ranging from diocesan administration to remote parish ministry.

I spent one month in Havana and two months in the remote communities of Bolondron, Guida and Bermajas. The contrast between placements was stark.

In Havana, I experienced a metropolis with many opportunities, then moved to rural towns with no infrastructure, no fresh water, no dairy, no meat, no vegetables or no stable food sources. This is the Cuba not many get to see.

The last month was spent touring 80% of the island’s parishes and home churches with Bishop Griselda. I couldn’t have asked for a more diverse and challenging start to my ministry.

I have been going to Cuba for more than 40 years as a tourist, but only through my internship opportunity in 2015 was my passion for the Cuban Church and all Cuban people fully realized.

It is a challenging time for the Cuban Church as they rejoin the Episcopal Church of the United States and become a full member once again. This membership in the Episcopal church was taken away from them when Fidel Castro declared the entire island an atheist state post revolution, and all Americans were forced to leave.

My last visit to Cuba was in June when I was asked to be godfather to Bishop Griselda’s granddaughter, six-month-old Elena. I had the joy of assisting in her baptism in the oldest church on the Island in Matanzas.

Following that visit, my missional opportunity to again volunteer for Bishop Griselda came about after numerous discussions about my ability to go to Cuba and help the Bishop in any way she thought necessary.

Cuba Dean Cormack
Dean Cormack (back row, left) and Bishop Griselda (front row, second from left) toured 80% of the island’s parishes and home churches during his ministerial internship in Cuba. “We always dressed in full vestments when we visited a typical home church,” commented Dean. Photo: Dean Cormack

Upon further discussion and discernment once home, Bishop Susan graciously granted me a six month leave of absence to take advantage of this missional opportunity.

This is a unique time for the Cuban Church. Niagara Diocese has always been very connected over the years, not only on a diocesan level but also parish to parish.

My hopes are to communicate, when I can, and give a Niagara perspective to the changes that are taking place.

I thank God for this opportunity to expand my ministry and thank all those who have made this possible.

Until next time,
Dean