November 24 and 25, 2018, the last Saturday and Sunday of the Church Year were very busy around the Diocese of New Westminster and due to the sheer volume of activity a very important event did not receive the diocesan-wide exposure it so richly deserved. We are referring to the retirement of the Reverend Dr. Marilyn Hames, one of the most accomplished and eclectic people ever in our diocese. A true renaissance person.
Marilyn was kind enough to share some information about her origins:
I come from Wales and lived there until I went to university in England where my husband Andrew and I were in the same class studying Mechanical engineering. However, I returned to Wales after university until my parents died within 2 weeks of each other when I was 22. Then I moved to Newcastle on Tyne where Andrew was doing his graduate apprenticeship, while I commuted to Durham where I completed mine in civil engineering—cutting my teeth on restoring medieval stone-arch bridges, including the famous one pictured beneath Durham Cathedral. We emigrated in 1976, moving to Vancouver in 1980.
We used to be told ‘get an education and get away from the mines’—I got half of that right anyway, but after spending 10 years in bridge-design, construction and renovation, moved into mining for the next 25 years—and loved it.
And... Rev. Hames also shared some information about her vocation, her current life and her post-retirement plans:
As the longest-serving clergy person at St. Philip’s, I was a member there for 27 1/2 years, serving as deacon for 4 1/2 years (one of the first three deacons ordained together by Bishop Michael Ingham), then as a priest for 19 years (and the first in the diocese to be granted a license by Bishop Michael as a non-stipendiary priest). I have served with 3 rectors, 4 interim priests and a number of wonderful curates and students. I am also the only Canadian full member of the Society of Ordained Scientists having coupled unpaid ministry with an engineering and research career having become a Fellow of the Engineers of Australia, besides being Chartered in the UK and working as a Professional Engineer in Canada.
My doctorate is in Christian Spirituality, specializing in local pilgrimages which I managed to do while working in mining all over the world, concentrating on finding ‘better ways of doing things’ to meet higher environment and safety standards.
At the same time as being a parish priest, spiritual director and introducing St. Philip's to Godly Play, I was also a ‘worker priest’, serving as a business executive and V. P. for two international companies in charge of engineering for the one, and research and technology for the other. Throughout my secular career I always received the full support of those companies and my colleagues, and was sometimes called on to provide pastoral support in remote places.
My husband Andrew and I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary in August of 2018, by going hiking in Namibia, having hiked in some of the remotest parts of the globe. Having at one time been the treasurer at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver (CCC) and a warden at St. Philip’s, he currently sings in the choir at Shaughnessy Heights United Church.
Life seems to be completing the circle for me as I return to CCC where I was baptized, confirmed and ordained. Same goes for completing studies in Welsh and Celtic Spirituality at the University of Wales. That allows me to visit my brother and his son regularly in St. Nicholas (yes, the name of a village in the Vale of Glamorgan). Their cottage is in the Doomsday Book with stone walls 3 foot thick and an ancient hearth. It’s a different world ‘back there’! My intention is to be better-equipped to create Celtic-Style resources for personal devotions, retreats and special liturgies. I am also continuing with watercolour painting, with my work being shown locally.
As of Advent 1, I returned to being a member of Christ Church Cathedral.
As Rev. Hames provided the bulk of the content for this piece we thought it only fair to reach out to some folks and ask them to contribute a few words commemorating this retirement event:
"Marilyn kept everyone honest, so thorough in her executive business day job, and equally so at St. Philip's in her non-stipendiary ministry. A high ethic, rich spirituality and wicked sense of humour enabled a strong pastoral ministry. Even from her student days, she learned to stand up to challenges head-on, yet she exercised humility in her role as priest. I have no doubt that parishes will call on her for spiritual input once she settles comfortably into her retirement.".
- The Venerable Ronald Harrison, former Rector of St. Philip, Dunbar; former Archdeacon of Vancouver and retired Executive Archdeacon of the Diocese of New Westminster.
What I treasure about Marilyn is her ability to put you at ease in any situation. She is so genuine, which is why she really shines in her pastoral role. I love listening to Marilyn's sermons. Every word is important, thought-provoking and deliberate. And always delivered with humour.
- Vicki Potter, ODNW, St. Philip’s parishioner, a Founding Member of Westside Anglicans Neighbourhood Ministry
Conrad Guelke, ODNW, long time St. Philip’s parishioner, parish leader, diocesan leader, fellow engineer and the first “official” editor of Topic sent Marilyn an email prior to her last Sunday as priest at St. Philip’s. Here is an excerpt:
In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, "the old order changeth, yielding place to the new". Clearly the “old order” at St. Philip’s is changing. As you prepare to "semi-retire" take pride in the fact that you have made an impressive and sustained contribution to the parish throughout your non-stipendiary incumbency. This time has not been without its challenges, and your perseverance and faithfulness have made a difference.
I will miss your sermons. I always enjoyed their "construction" and the way in which you creatively combined theology, real world experience and humour to convey your message.
- Conrad Guelke, ODNW
Marilyn will be greatly missed at St. Philip’s, she is part of the fabric of our parish. Having been both a parishioner and member of the clergy team, Marilyn has been involved in almost every parish ministry over the years. What I have appreciated most is her sense of fun, creativity, imagination, and wisdom. She has great stories and experiences that she shares at the right moment to make you laugh or give insight. It was Marilyn that introduced St. Philip’s to Godly Play which has made a big impact to our church school. I wish Marilyn much joy and fun in retirement.
- Charlotte French, ODNW, People’s Warden, St. Philip’s
“So many Marilyns; priest, engineer, artist...too many more to name, all cut from the one brilliant diamond. Retired, but the light still shines for the onward journey. God has blessed us with the knowing of her.”
- Anne Richards, former parish administrator at St. Philip’s
I enjoyed working with Marilyn at St. Philip’s. She was always ready for a joke or a good chat on Sunday mornings. And she is/was very appreciative of my music ministry. She would check with me on any hymn tune or plain chant that she wasn’t sure about because she wanted it to be right and it made it easier for both of us.
- Michael Murray, Organist and Director of Music, St. Philip’s
Marilyn was an incredible priest and mentor to me while I was in my curacy. Marilyn is one of the most devout, gracious, and unfathomable people I’ve ever met: tough as nails and yet often vulnerable and forgiving, mystical and hilariously irreverent, confident but constantly open to learning new things, and almost boundlessly creative. Although there is much that divides us, I don’t know that there is anyone else on earth to whom I relate so deeply.”
- The Reverend Clare Morgan, former assistant curate, St. Philip’s; Chaplain at St. Jude’s Anglican Care Home and House Manager, Hineni House associated with St. Margaret, Cedar Cottage.
Many thanks to Rev. Hames and those who contributed information, reflections and their memories for sharing this information about Marilyn’s ministry and her professional life.
And we hold Marilyn and Andrew up in prayer asking that God continues to bless their lives and ministry.