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Reflecting on Earth, our original monastery at St. Bart's

St. Bart’s is planning an outdoor service this weekend to honour sacredness of nature

When people think of “church,” they generally associate it with formidable, steepled buildings adorned with stained glass and filled with hard, wooden pews.  Not so for Gibson’s newest vicar, former performing artist and counsellor, the Rev. Dr. Joyce Parry-Moore.  During COVID, when Mother Joyce (or MoJo to her friends) sought the holy for solace, she looked outdoors. 

“Two years ago, this book, written by Irish-American contemplative Christine Valters Paintner, inspired me toward a three-month sabbatical spent in the wilds of Ireland and Scotland, searching for my ancestors’ Celtic spirituality of the sacred in creation.” Parry-Moore traveled to Connemara, former home of Irish poet John O’Donoghue, then the remote Aran Islands, and finally the spiritual retreat of Iona, in the Hebrides.   

“What I discovered not only filled my senses, but it also changed my thinking about religious community, and how we make meaning in the world.”   

That experience in part led her to the Sunshine Coast, a place where people understand deeply the importance of, well, place.  The holiness found outside of buildings, in the beauty of trees, oceans and mountains.  Parry-Moore also serves as the Minister for Climate Justice for the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.   

Sunday, Aug. 13, St. Bart’s will come together in the shade of their outdoor memorial garden and offer prayers, music, and movement to honor the sacredness in all of us and in nature.   

“We hope this particular meeting might be more accessible to those who, because of past or generational trauma, may not feel comfortable inside a church building,” Mo Jo added.   

“After all, the earliest monks and abbesses of Ireland – clinging to a rocky coastline like ours– did not need buildings to hold their gratitude for life.  Their source was all around them.” 

The gathering will take place on at 10 a.m. at 659 North Road People of all ages and experiences are welcome.  Lemonade and cookies will be served following the service.