On Thursday June 16, 2022, the Right Reverend John Stephens inducted the Reverend Joseph James Dirbas as Rector of the Parish and Church of the Holy Trinity in White Rock. The ministry post had essentially been vacant for 4 years since the retirement of the Reverend Neil Gray in April of 2018.
The Venerable Louie Engnan, Archdeacon of Fraser who in the absence of the Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Douglas Fenton was tasked with initiating the Covenant in Ministry. He related the history of the Canonical Search process:
After a long incumbency, the Canonical Committee was convened to provide parish leadership and representation in the selection process of a new rector. The first few months was devoted to a listening process which included town hall meetings and focus groups. According to the wardens, they were able to consult more than ninety percent of their congregation.
The next step was the actual writing of the parish profile in January 2019. Once finalized with diocesan leadership, it was posted for application. Then the Bishop’s Advisory Committee on Appointments was convened to review the applications, after which the names of the short-listed candidates were sent to the Canonical Search Committee for interviews.
During the first round of interviews, there was no successful candidate that they could recommend to the bishop for appointment. So, they had to repost the profile and invited clergy once again to apply for the position of rector of the parish. They went through the process twice more.
After thoughtful thinking and reflective meditation, the Canonical Search Committee endorsed to the bishop, a successful candidate for appointment. After much excitement and anticipation for the coming of your new rector, unfortunately, it was a very short-lived incumbency of only three months.
Parish and Church of the Holy Trinity, through the assistance of the Bishop’s Office, was able to secure an interim minister after the rector abandoned the parish. The parish grieved because of this sudden and unexpected situation. Still in a state of shock and confusion, the leadership team organized a “Listening Circle”, this was a form of prayer-reflection where people meet to listen, and invite God’s healing presence into a present dilemma or an unhealed memory. This was particularly applicable to this parish’s situation.
Still in the midst of searching for a new rector, the parish was blessed to receive a bequest from a very dear and beloved parishioner. But not without the drama that occurred within the church. Again, with assistance from the Bishop’s Office, and the vice-chancellor of the diocese, they were able to hurdle another challenge in the life of the parish.
In all these challenges and opportunities, the leadership remained faithful to their call to service God and God’s people. “I believe that the celebration of new ministry that we are having today, is an expression of what is at the very heart of who you are because your profile says, ‘In Christ We are a Caring Christian community seeking and welcoming others to join us in our Journey of faith’.”.
Father Joseph James Dirbas sent the following biographical information:
The Reverend Joseph James Dirbas was born in Livonia, Michigan and grew up in San Diego, California. Father Dirbas holds a BS degree in Electronic Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, a MS degree in Electrical Engineering from California State University, Fullerton, and an M.Div. from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. Fr. Dirbas was ordained to the priesthood in San Diego, California, in December 2010. Fr. Dirbas first served as Associate Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar, California and was called as Rector of All Souls’ Episcopal Church, Point Loma, in 2014.
Prior to his seminary education and ordination, Fr. Dirbas spent 20 years as an engineer, program manager, and business unit manager in the defense industry. Fr. Dirbas has also served on many diocesan committees including chairing the finance committee and co-chairing the bishop’s nominating committee. Fr. Dirbas is married to the Reverend Terry Shields Dirbas, rector of St. John’s, Shaughnessy, and together they have five young children: George, Jeannie, Chatham, James, and Mary.
The liturgy on June 16 was a Celebration of a New Ministry Eucharist on the Commemoration of Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham. Approximately 65 people were present in the sanctuary with many more participating online through the parish’s livestreaming platform. Father Joe’s family were present: Mother Terry Shields Dirbas, Rector of St. John’s, Shaughnessy, and their five young children: George, Jeannie, Chatham, James, and Mary.
The preacher for the Eucharist was the Dean of the Diocese and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Christopher A. Pappas.
Dean Pappas concluded his sermon with the following words directed personally to the new Rector:
You’re to tell the story that the established power relationships will not continue because the world as it is has been defeated. The Empire has lost, in episode VI, return of the Jedi.
Joseph, tonight we are affirming that you have been called to be a part of this process of proclaiming the story of the good news at this time in this place. We are affirming that you have been called to proclaim the good news of the resurrection, proclaim the victory of the God of love, you are to go into the world not one day in 7 but 7 whole days, you are to teach, to preach, to reconcile, to forgive, to absolve, to pray, to bring wholeness, to build up the body of Christ.
Sounds like a lot doesn't it. Yes it does but don't worry…do not be afraid as the angel said, because you are equipped, you are accompanied and you are empowered. You are equipped by the tools of your ministry as seen in these symbols presented tonight. Like Iron Man donning the Mark 46 armour or perhaps the Nano armour from Infinity War we can imagine the gauntlets, the chest plate, they are flying through the air and wrapping around you to empower and equip you: the Bible, the prayer book, the water of baptism, the oil of anointing, the bread and wine of the great thanksgiving, this is your Iron Man suit. And you do it empowered for this shared ministry is built on the sure foundation of Christ who empowers and connects you to the earliest disciples through the apostolic succession of our bishop whom shares with you tonight the ministry he has received from those who walked with Christ on earth as we hear in the words the bishop will speak at the end of this ritual. Joseph let all these be signs of the ministry which is mine and yours, and is shared by all the people of God. Amen.
Following the Covenant in Ministry, with the Oaths and Subscriptions and License of Institution, and the Presentation of Symbols of Shared Ministry, Bishop John presented Father Joseph to the assembly of parishioners and visitors who responded with lengthy, thunderous applause.
The Reverend Stephen Rowe, Regional Dean of Peace Arch and Rector of the Anglican Parish of the Church of Epiphany, Surrey welcomed Father Joseph to “the most creative and innovative Archdeaconry in the diocese”. The Venerable Louie Engnan, Regional Archdeacon of Fraser and Vicar of St. Michael, Surrey and Christ the Redeemer, Cloverdale welcomed Father Joseph to the Fraser archdeaconry as “the most creative and innovative Regional Deanery in the diocese”.
The laity of the parish was represented by wardens, Priscilla Archer, ODNW and Robin Inglis and 12 more, many participating in the liturgy as members of the sanctuary party, readers, choristers, greeters, livestream/ tech and presenters of the symbols of ministry.
There were several clergy present including the Archdeacon of Burrard and Rector of St James Church, the Venerable Kevin Hunt.
Music in worship was led by the choir and organist, Ulo Valdma.
Following the Episcopal Blessing, the Dismissal was proclaimed by Deacon Paul Richards.
Please keep the Parish and Church of the Holy Trinity, the new rector and his family in your prayers as they continue forward in loving, innovative, collaborative and meaningful ministry together.
Photos: Cliff Caprani