A small but significant piece of history will be made at the Anglican Parish of the Church of the Epiphany (Epiphany), Surrey on Sunday March 26 when Bishop Melissa Skelton will receive and recognize the priestly orders of Ayoob Shawkat Adwar. Father Ayoob is understood to be the first Chaldean priest to become an Anglican priest in its history. In addition, he is the first priest in the Diocese to be fluent in Arabic, and Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke). He also speaks Italian. Gathered for this service will be friends and family, Anglicans from Epiphany and St Helen’s, Surrey as well as members of the Chaldean community. Ayoob’s father, Shawkat Shammas will act as the Bishop’s Chaplain for the liturgy. Ayoob’s family began to arrive in Canada over five years ago and now living in the Surrey area are his mother and father ,four sisters, two brothers and their respective families, in addition one sister and her family live in Turkey.
Ayoob originates from near Mosul (Nineveh) and was ordained deacon and priest in the Chaldean tradition in 2008. Later he travelled to Italy, where after learning Italian, completed his Masters in Social Pedagogy. It was during these years that he first experienced the Anglican tradition when studying in Rome and travelling in Europe.
In 2014, Ayoob travelled to Canada and in the fall of that year was granted Refugee Status as his life was in danger if he returned home to Iraq. Around this time a group of Chaldeans started to attend worship on Sundays at Epiphany. Soon after, a twice a week Rosary service was initiated and Anglicans and Chaldeans shared the building in partnership together, learning about one another’s cultural and religious traditions. Advent 2014 Bishop Skelton granted permission for a Chaldean Rite Mass to take place at Epiphany which continued every week through the end of February 2017. Through regular meetings the two leadership groups learned to share Holy Week and other festivals as well as joint social events. Anglicans attended Chaldean worship and vice versa.
Father Ayoob declared early on that he wanted to test his vocation as an Anglican priest. A discernment process included: meeting with clergy; taking courses at VST; and mentoring by the Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Douglas Fenton to develop his Anglican formation. Ayoob also completed a year-long internship with the Reverend Stephen Laskey and the people of St Helen’s, Surrey. It was here that Ayoob was confirmed as an Anglican by Bishop Melissa on the fourth Sunday in Advent, December 18, 2016.
The formation complete, Bishop Skelton is now welcoming Father Ayoob into the Diocese and the Anglican Church of Canada to serve as a curate. He will continue to work alongside an experienced priest as he begins his priestly ministry as an Anglican.
The Epiphany faith community and I have been privileged to work in partnership with the Chaldean community over almost three years now. Currently, a new Chaldean priest has arrived locally and Epiphany continues to work in collaboration with this community, many of whom live very close to the parish’s location on 148th Street in north Surrey. We are delighted to see Father Ayoob come to this moment in his life when he continues his priesthood but in a new tradition. He brings a wealth of life experience, as well as the knowledge of many languages and therefore offers to his new diocese many gifts to lead and develop congregational life.
It has been a delight to see Ayoob make this faith journey and for this moment of being received and recognized as a priest to come to fruition. It is wonderful that this new calling begins here at Epiphany where Ayoob has been so much a part of our corporate life for these last few years.
We will continue to pray and offer support as he enters this new phase of his ministry knowing that he will do the same for Epiphany. And together we will hold in our thoughts and prayers the Chaldean community who live and worship in Surrey.
We hope there will be a good congregation on March 26th, including clergy welcoming their new colleague. Full coverage of the service with photographs and commentary is planned for posting on-line after the liturgy and is also planned for inclusion in the Summer Edition of Topic, the magazine of the Diocese of New Westminster, published 10 months a year and available as a section of the national publication The Anglican Journal .
All Are Welcome! 6pm, March 26, please click the link to access the event posting on this website.