Assistant Curates Reflect on Ministry

 on May 9, 2024


It is a unique opportunity in the Church today to be an assistant curate. My work as curate of St. George’s in St. Catharines is primarily the work that any deacon does. I preach and take my turn running sessions of our adult education group. I join in and support the work of a number of parish committees, and I volunteer in a number of capacities with the breakfast program that feeds people daily from the hall of our church. A large proportion of my week is taken up by interacting and visiting with parishioners. I tell people that I am paid to talk for fifteen minutes a week and the rest of the time I listen! St. George’s is a large parish so we frequently have people in the hospital that need to be visited, parishioners who can’t get to church anymore who appreciate a visit from the clergy as well as the happy opportunity to get to have a meal or a coffee with people to talk about their lives and our faith.

The work I do every week varies widely and encompasses a diverse number of tasks, however the weekly Sunday liturgies continually bring me back to the core of my vocation Having the opportunity to fulfill my role in the liturgical action by proclaiming the Gospel, calling people to repentance and inviting people to share a sign of God’s peace week by week recalls me to what I have been called to do as a deacon. And that is particularly important in the following days when I am tethered to my computer or focused on administrative work. Putting on a clerical collar for the first time didn’t leave much of an impression on me – to my surprise. It was wearing the stole for the first time when I realized the trust and responsibility that were being placed on me as well as the joy of having found the way in which God was calling me to participate in God’s mission in the world.

While as a deacon I do the same work any other cleric does, as a curate I am doing that work as a new and inexperienced deacon, so I am doing it under supervision. I have the great benefit of two experienced and talented priests as supervisors, Canon Martha Tatarnic and Tom Vaughan, co-rectors of St. George’s, St. Catharines. Having the opportunity to rely on their counsel and advice as I undertake the various tasks of ministry and further discern my vocation is invaluable and a great comfort and source of strength.

St. George’s is a great teaching parish. The people know that they are having a hand in forming me for ministry and each in their own way are conscientious and caring in doing so. It takes a lot of effort and resources on the part of a parish to form a curate, especially as most of the benefit of that training will go to other parishes and other parishioners. My supervisors and parishioners are putting a lot of work into me and my formation so that I may be better able to serve other people and other congregations of our Church and diocese in the years ahead. This is made possible because half of my salary is covered by the diocese’s Differentiated Curacies Fund. As an Anglican I am so glad to see resources being put towards building up new clergy to serve our Church and God’s people.

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to serve St. George’s now and I am hopeful that the ways I am being formed now will in the future help me live into my calling and help the people that I will serve.


I was and am absolutely delighted to be placed at Christ’s Church Cathedral as the assistant curate. Having lived in downtown Hamilton since fall of 2021, my husband and I had already been members of the congregation before my placement, so I was aware of what a vibrant and exciting church community it is.

Since I had the advantage of already being acquainted with the parish and its many ministries, I jumped into my curacy with enthusiasm and joy! My entrance to ordained ministry at the Cathedral was well-timed because the parish was then developing its Mission Action Plan. I began by getting well acquainted with the cathedral’s specific goals for mission within the parish and surrounding neighbourhood. I was asked to take the lead on the adult faith formation goals – which we renamed spiritual growth due to my abiding interest and previous experience in this area of ministry. I have relished having a front-row seat as the cathedral community strives to express its love for God and our neighbours in its specifically discerned ways.

My day-to-day work is filled with all kinds of ministry, from the interpersonal to the administrative and from the liturgical to the practical. I love fulfilling the deacon’s role in our parish, reading the Gospel during our services and making connections within the community. Several business owners on James Street North now welcome me in for a chat whenever I stop by to ask them to post a flier for an upcoming cathedral community event.

I am truly blessed to have Dean Tim Dobbin as my rector and supervisor. He is very intentional about my ministry formation process, and I know that I am learning from the best. It can be a bit intimidating when I preach and he invites the whole congregation to give me helpful feedback. But I have learned that any nerves I feel have more to do with my insecurity than with the people who approach me. Most everyone’s comments have been kind and genuinely helpful. I know that I have become a better preacher for it.

I am also blessed to be a beta tester for a new diocesan curacy process. This process provides me with clear structure for discerning specific learning goals for my curacy, broken into manageable and achievable action steps. Additionally, I am supported by not just my supervisor, but also a lay learning team composed of trusted members of the parish. These wise and knowledgeable souls help me see where I have grown and also where I still need learning and experience.

One of the requirements of the curacy process is a missional project I develop and execute over the course of my curacy. Just the work of determining what that project could be has been formational. After listening, praying, and discussing with my supervisor and Lay Learning Team, I have focused on providing spiritual support for our Cathedral Café ministry.

This past winter, the Cathedral Café drop-in program, aimed at supporting anyone street- involved, grew from six to over 40 hours a week, through the support of the City of Hamilton and St. Matthew’s House. As the numbers of staff, volunteers, and guests grew, I noticed an increasing desire for more spiritual connection and support. I suggested altering our midday Eucharist service on Wednesdays to be more accessible for the Café. Together, our ministry team has developed a lovely service where we receive the prayer requests of interested guests, volunteers, and staff and we all worship together as one. Additionally, after working with our Café staff to provide enough Bibles to meet the constant requests for them, I now co-lead a weekly Discovery Bible Study for anyone curious within the Cathedral Café community.

The Cathedral is one of the most exciting church communities I have ever had the joy to belong to. Every day, I find myself in new learning opportunities as I grow in my calling as an ordained minister of the Anglican Church. This would not be possible without the Differentiated Curacies Fund, which covers half of my salary. I am continually grateful for all the support I receive from both the diocese and the cathedral community, and I continually thank God for this wonderful opportunity to serve and grow.

About the Differentiated Curacies Fund
The curacies of both Mike and Monica have been supported, in part, by the diocesan Differentiated Curacies Fund, created from the sale of disestablished parish properties.

“This is an investment in the leadership of our diocese—which we will all benefit from over time,” says Bishop Susan Bell.

The formation of a priest is the direct result of the nurturing of many parishes as well as teaching rectors, which takes significant resources to support them over many years. Curacies are an intense 18-to-24-month period of training for new clergy. Each assistant curate brings their own gifts and the blessing of the Spirit who has set them apart to exercise those gifts on behalf of the Church.

“We are investing our money in leadership development because we know—by the grace of God—that there is a future; and that it’s going to be exciting, and that right-skilled leadership is a crucial part of it.”

Please pray for those discerning a call to ordained ministry in the Church. If this might be you, visit:


A Prayer for Vocations

God our hope, your risen Christ commissioned leaders to make disciples of all nations and baptize them to serve as a living testimony to his presence. Raise up in this Province vocations to holy orders, individuals who will love you with their whole hearts and gladly spend their lives making you known; Quicken wisdom in those charged with ministries of discernment or mentorship; and equip theological schools and faith communities in which vocations are encouraged and incubated, so your Church, devoting itself to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers, may live as a faithful sign and instrument of your Reign, drawing the world to the One who is Lamb, Gate, and Shepherd, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen

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