Called to the pulpit
STIGMA associated with the mentally ill continues to prevent them from being reintegrated into society.
Coordinator of the Quarterway House of the Psychiatric Hospital, Sharon Sargeant, said greater understanding was needed by corporate Barbados and the public.
She told the DAILY NATION yesterday, Patient Appreciation Day, that the Quarterway House programme needed more buy-in as most of the work the patients received was in-house.
Sargeant said there were 13 men and a woman enrolled. She said only one – a new patient – was unemployed and the hospital was employing ten of them, paying a stipend.
Patient Appreciation Day was part of the week of activities, which continues with a sports day today from 10 a.m. and a health fair on Saturday in Heroes Square. (CA)“There wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment in my life that led me to the priesthood.”
An “aha moment”is an event or clusterof experiences that illuminates a life-altering pathway, and the Reverend Dr Sonia Hinds, a 53-year-old Bajan woman of the cloth in Canada, is certain that no sudden realization that triggered an exclamation of joy when she helped to create the opportunities for women to become priests in Barbados’ Anglican church.
“I grew up in a large family with five sisters,a brother and a protective mother and my life followed a particular path that made going into the priesthood a natural step for me,” she recalled.
“As a teacher and a social worker in Barbados and as a member of the All Souls Church family,I always felt comfortable dealing with people at the most basic of levels.”
But, more importantly, she felt the hand of God guiding her to a presence in the pulpit.
“I had the confidenceto tell church leaders and others that I wanted to become a priest despite the fact that up to then, women weren’t allowed to take Holy Orders in the church,” said Hinds. “I felt God was calling me to assume a leadership position so I could help shape the world.”
Even before the Provincial Synod gavethe green light to the ordination of women, Hinds had already entered Codrington Collegeas a student and had completed undergraduate and post-graduate studies in theology.
So when the acceptance of women as priests became official, the way was already paved for Bishop Rufus Brome,the first black Barbadian Anglican bishop, to ordain her and BeverleySealy-Knight as the first female deacons in the history of the churchin Barbados.
Two years later, both made history again when they became the first women in the Caribbean to serve as priests.Rev. Hinds was later made rector of St Philip The Less in St Peter, where she remained for three years before emigratingto Canada to get married and to broaden the scope of her training and religious ministry.
Today, the graduateof Codrington College,the University of the West Indies and the University of Toronto, who has earned a string of degrees in theology, sacred theology and ministry, is the interim priest-in-chargeat St Columba and All Hallows, an East York parish church in Toronto’s Anglican Diocese, where she has been serving since 2002 when she was made rector of Christ Church Scarborough Village.
“Coming to Canadahas been a rewarding experience, part ofa divine plan that has given me an opportunity to live and practise ministry in a country with diverse cultures,” said the Barbadian, who a few months ago was awarded a doctorate degree in ministry by the University of Toronto, one of Canada’s Ivy League schools.
Her graduation was the culmination of years of study and research while she was still carrying out her pastoral duties. For the doctorate, she studied cultural diversityin an Anglican setting.
“God has given me gifts and I want to use themto help people, especially women,” said Hinds.
One such giftis the ability to easethe pain enduredby abused women.
“As a social worker before I became a priest,I counselled teenagers who had been sexually and physically abused,” she said. “That helped to stir my deep interest in violence against women; not simply domestic violence, but the kind of abuse that can be traced to the exercise of powerby men.”
That explains why she is spending so much time these days developinga not-for-profit organization in Toronto which, when it is up and running, would provide counselling and other social services to battered and abused women.
Called The Women At The Well Centre, it would use a mix of Bible study, workshops and courses designed to help people rebuild their lives.
Hinds has her eyes set on eventually returning home, not simplyas a priest but to usea similar social services agency to offer a helping hand to people.
“That’s somethingI would dearly loveto do,” she said.