What St. Olave’s Means to Parishioners

The following testimonials are part of an ongoing series written by members of St. Olave’s for our For the Love of St. Olave’s e-blasts. They offer a deeper understanding of the impact the church has had in their lives. If you would like to provide your own tribute message, it would be most welcome! Please email your message to Jim Shapland.

Aden Shapland

I’m only 13 years old, but I still wish to express my feelings to you about St. Olave’s church. To start things off, I’d like to say I strongly support the things that the ‘For The Love of St. Olave’s’ committee does. My father’s involved, and he’s told me a lot about what happens in it – mostly things to help the church survive and thrive.

‘St. Olave’s means the world to me’ was the saying on a set of St. Olave’s t-shirts a few years back, and the phrase sums up how I feel. I’ve been going here my whole life, and I joined the choir two years ago (it’s really great, by the way, you really should hear it).

I mean it when I say that St. Olave’s is an amazing place.

Aden at Casa Loma on a Youth Group outing in December 2017.

The Rev. Dr. Schuyler Brown

The Anglican Church of St. Olave’s is a miracle. It has held fast to the twin pillars of the English Reformation: the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Version of the Bible. It has a vibrant programme of Religious Education, focused on Anglican history and tradition. It is a warm, open community, “where seldom is heard a discouraging word.” 

Finding St. Olave’s, after the amalgamation of the Church of the Good Shepherd, has given me a safe harbour, for which I am most grateful to God.

St. Olave’s welcomed Schuyler as Honorary Assistant in 2016. He leads a monthly Bible Study and Eastertide discussion series. 

Bev Jarvis

St. Olave’s has always been home to me. Many psalms speak of God’s provision for a refuge, meeting place, or home to abide in. (Psalm 90:1-2, Psalm 91:1-2).

Since my parents, grandparents, relatives and friends were active here, in Church and Scouting, I was blessed to grow up in a loving and lively “home.”

Once called a “cradle Anglican,” I was fortunate to celebrate Baptism (1930), Sunday school, confirmation and marriage (1955) at St. Olave’s. It has been a vibrant journey for me surrounded by treasured friends, beautiful liturgy, (ie The Book of Common Prayer), music, creativity and Bible-centred learning. One can appreciate how to “Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness” through our precious sacraments.

St. Olave’s is an ideal place to experience this Beauty within lovely architecture, with dear friends, surrounded by heavenly music. Here we can grow in the Lord, and find ourselves in the Family of God.

Cathy Hutcheon

I don’t remember not being immersed in liturgy. Throughout my childhood in Wales, words that were familiar, but not necessarily understood, unfolded their mystery.

At the heart of these words was the presence and love of Jesus, Son of the Living God.

Life has since been a tapestry of joys and sorrow, quotidian routines and adventure, confusion and clarity. I’ve wandered and come ‘home’ more times that I care to admit.

This brings me to the nub of what St Olave’s means to me. Three thousand miles from my starting point, and moving into my senior years, I can return here again and again to those oh so familiar words. Sometimes still, understanding unfolds. Love always does!

Cathy Hutcheon recently retired from her post as St. Olave’s Librarian. She is a teacher in the Toronto District School Board.

Sheila Tait

On the day that my parents and I moved into the neighbourhood, my father went for a walk “to reconnoitre” and announced the discovery of an Anglican Church within walking distance. And so began our association with St. Olave’s. As staunch Anglicans in Jamaica, both parents were highly involved members of two parishes including one with the third oldest church (founded 1671, present building erected 1715 with an organ dated from 1867 and said to be the oldest in the Commonwealth Caribbean.)

The “comfortable words” of the Book of Common Prayer made the integration in St. Olave’s seamless. My parents appreciated the hospitality of and involvement in a ‘community’ church. They understood and we discussed the necessity for consistent financial contribution and support, the continuing demands of maintaining a historical beautiful building and the need for good stewardship.

I treasure the liturgy, the variety of religious experiences, the music, evensong, Lenten and other series, the outreach to and inclusion of other congregations, our parishioners and the ministry and fellowship of faith-filled women.

St. Olave’s gives me the ideal opportunity for worship, fellowship, learning and service.

Sheila is a former Warden at St. Olave’s and currently serves as our Property Chair. 

Janice Douglas and Martha Drake

Our friendship first took root as kids at St. John the Evangelist in London. Through the years we would run into each other around the city but in May of 1987 we found ourselves together at a French immersion program in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec.

Both students at Western University, our friendship blossomed that spring as we conjugated regular and irregular verbs, practised the Quebecois tradition of improv and explored the rocky shoreline of the Bas-Saint Laurent region.
Fast forward 10 years to 1997. We were living with our respective husbands in the west end of Toronto. If Martha lays claim to discovering St. Olave’s for us, then it is Janice who settled the land, digging in for the long haul! Our children – Katie, Gabbie and Paul – grew up here at St. Olave’s, from baptism, Junior Church and Nativity Plays, and were eventually confirmed together. Now we are on the stewardship team together. Our friendship wears the Anglican church around its shoulders like a warm and cozy shawl.
You might say friends who pray together stay together!

Carol Drummond

I first came to St. Olave’s on the invitation of Dale Allen when  I was considering leaving the fundamentalist/evangelical church where I was a very active member. I still wanted the Bible based teaching and commitment but desired the more worshipful form of Sunday service provided by a good liturgy.

St. Olave’s combination of commitment to Book of Common Prayer, Wycliffe trained pastors and community won me over.  It has been over 25 years since I switched and St. O’s still delivers that Bible-based teaching and worshipful experience.

Michael Ball

St. Olave’s … my new church home.

During the early years of my life I grew up in an active Anglican family where my church was an integral part of my many activities. For various reasons, during my working career, I established another church home and it, again, filled many parts of my life but I still missed my early Anglican roots.

About three years ago I decided to search out another church home and visited various Anglican congregations in Toronto but none provide a good fit for my spiritual needs.
A year ago, I walked in the front door of St. Olave’s where a greeter met me with a warm smile even though I was a stranger. My pew contained the familiar Book of Common Prayer and Hymnal from my earlier years. Suddenly, within just a few minutes, I felt that St. Olave’s was going to be my new home. The service of Holy Communion, the familiar prayers, the music, and blessings poured into my eyes and ears and refreshed me in a way that I have been searching for all this time.

The service ended, and Reverend Rob warmly shook my hand, asked my name, and sincerely showed an interest in me. He even offered to visit me in my home, to learn more about my life, my journeys and he helped to cement my feelings of finally being part of a new church home.

Robert Ragsdale

Let me count the ways. When Bette and I came to Toronto as newlyweds in the early ’50s and settled in a little apartment on South Kingsway, we went about to find a welcoming church hopefully similar to the ones we had been brought up in.  We discovered it almost immediately in
St. Olave’s.

The church itself – beautiful Gothic architecture, columns soaring skyward to the heavens; interior traditional design, beautiful in its simplicity and plainness, without all the distracting wall decorations and plaques found in so many churches. A house of worship where you can sit quietly and actually feel the presence of Our Lord and creator, Jesus Christ.

The liturgy – our King James version of the prayer book, with its unparalleled mediaeval language in which there is a precise word for every meaning or situation, and which gives the worshipper a real opportunity to partake in the service rather than just being a spectator.

And then the parishioners – the building full of vibrant enthusiastic Christian souls, really a “church family”  always ready to welcome and assist newcomers to their midst. We found in our 60-odd years of membership, no lack of opportunities to help in doing the Lord’s work in so many ways as well as enjoy the warm fellowship of others, many of whom became life-long friends.

And the leadership – Clergy who not only were good pastors, but also had the special talents required during some rather turbulent times in our history. Canon Sextus Stiles, business-oriented and builder of the parish; Rev. Dr. Versey Wigmore, intellectual, yet very humble, and a  great pastor and erudite preacher during a time when people were becoming very apathetic about religion; Rev. Reg Rose, a friendly Maritimer, extemporaneous speaker who extended our vision outward to include Anglican Houses and Wilkinson House to rescue young people from the streets; and Rev. David Burrows, who carried us into the 21st century, particularly with his social skills in helping the homeless street people directly with food, clothing and Christianity. And with our newest incumbent, the Rev. Rob Mitchell, I feel very confident that St. Olave’s Anglican Church will continue to flourish with the help of an already growing congregation.

These are some of the reasons I love St. Olave’s and why I would encourage everyone to join in and help spread the Word. It always provides a great feeling of accomplishment as well.