‘I love working in south Etobicoke’ – December 2013 issue of The Anglican

The following text is from the December 2013 issue of The Anglican. I assume this is a local church newsletter. I have received the text by email, from a source that in my experience is a highly reliable source of information.

[Conclusion of comment from Jaan Pill; the text mentioned above follows below]

December 2013 The Anglican

‘I love working in south Etobicoke’

By Rosemary MacAdam

Rosemary MacAdam is the part-time youth minister at St. Margaret, New Toronto, in south Etobicoke. She is the Youth Ministry Area Coordinator for York-Credit Valley. She also works at Scarboro Missions in Toronto, running a workshop for high school students about the Golden Rule and world religions.

At St. Margaret’s, I run three weekly programs for youth. I am blessed to have created a relationship with Humber College’s Child and Youth Worker program, so we currently have three Humber students doing their placements at the church. It’s a great way to connect with a community college, and to connect college students with the church. With the student placements, I run an after-school cooking club for teens and a Friday activities program for youth aged eight to 13. The Friday program uses the Humber students’ gifts to plan therapeutic activities. I am also working on building up a vibrant Sunday youth program.

In my job as the area coordinator, I worked hard on the diocesan-wide Anglican youth retreat, held at the end of October. We had about 100 youth for a weekend retreat at Camp Medeba in the Haliburton Highlands. The theme was “Finding God at the Movies.” We explored what God was saying in our contemporary context to youth in grades seven to 12. I think having larger events where youth can connect and meet other Christian youth is vital.

The first time I went to south Etobicoke was when I went for my youth ministry interview at St. Margaret’s. To be honest, my first thought was “Where am I? This doesn’t feel like Toronto at all.” South Etobicoke has its own identity and has a small town feel to it. On Lake Shore Boulevard, people say hello, and there is a strong community identity. Most of the youth who come to our programs live on that street or very close by, so there is a strong community connection, which is really wonderful. I love working in south Etobicoke.

I became a youth worker after volunteering in an after-school youth program run by St. John the Evangelist in Peterborough. I was completing my undergrad at Trent University.

I really enjoyed working with the teens and learned so much from them. When I graduated from Trent, Christian asked if I would consider applying to the diocese’s Youth Ministry Apprenticeship Program. This is where apprentices learn how to be youth ministers. I was hesitant at first but eventually agreed to the interview. I was accepted and have been on this path ever since. For me, children and youth are powerful teachers, and I am constantly learning about myself and the Spirit through them. Sometimes it is difficult to work with youth, but at other times I am completely humbled and awed by their gifts.

I graduated in Women’s Studies from Trent University. I was heavily involved in the fair trade movement and the anti-sweatshop movement, specifically the United Students Against Sweatshops organization. I travelled to El Salvador and Nicaragua to work with women organizing for better working conditions in the sweatshop factories. I worked in Trent University’s purchasing department as the fair trade co-ordinator to ensure the university ethically sourced all of its clothing. I also worked one summer for a trade union, organizing hotel workers in Niagara Falls. My last job before becoming a youth worker was working for six months on an organic farm just outside of Peterborough.

Both my parents’ involvement in social justice and their strong integrity as human beings have shaped me a lot. Holy Trinity, Trinity Square, in downtown Toronto was my home parish, and I have always had a strong connection between my faith and social justice. I have al- so had wonderful mentors and teachers, both Christian and from other faith traditions, who have really influenced and inspired me. The call of the Gospel is Jesus calling us to build societies of justice and peace, which is something I strongly believe in. I think my experience of growing up in the Holy Trinity community helped lead me into working for fair trade and labour rights, as well as women’s rights, LGBTQ activism, and environmental and indigenous rights.

Youth can be brutally honest and they ask a lot of questions. These are gifts that are very important in the church. Youth also constantly challenge and call the church to be relevant in today’s society. They ask the church, “How is what you are talking about relevant to my life?” The theme for CLAY (the Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth gathering this summer) is “Worth It.” It’s a great theme because it asks us to explore why being Christian and following Jesus is worth it. The church doesn’t need to be “cool” to be able to meet our youth; rather, we need to be authentic and relevant.

I practice yoga every day and am a very avid dancer. Spirituality is a very embodied experience for me, so doing yoga, dancing, hula hooping and cycling are all vital ways I connect with my- self and my spirituality. I commute to south Etobicoke from downtown Toronto by bicycle along the lake, and though people think I’m crazy for cycling an hour each way to work, it is actually a wonderful part of my day. I love learning about world faiths and spending time with my cat Charlie. I’m fascinated by personal growth and physiotherapy, and read books about physiology and the wonderful sphere of human existence.

What do I want to be doing five years from now? Living in Bali and working as a yoga teacher at a yoga retreat center! Or working at St. Margaret’s with my family of amazing youth. Developing a workshop on sacred stories and travelling to high schools to talk about spirituality. Travelling with Scarboro Missions to Turkey to learn about Sufi mystics. Having a baby and becoming a Sunday school teacher leading Godly Play. Moving to the country, having a lot of cats and growing my own food. The possibilities are endless!


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