The Rev. Brian Perron is the youngest of three siblings raised in St Lambert and resides in Candiac with his wife Joyce. Brian and Joyce lived on the same street as kids and due to their involvement in a 2005 High school reunion Sunday service they were married in 2007. It was at this time that Brian was introduced to being an Anglican and within a year left his position as Vice president of a financial printing company to enrol at McGill and Dio College to pursue ministry with the Anglican Church. Brian is Assistant curate with St Peter’s Ville Mont-Royal. Over the years Brian has been involved in many organizations where he has been chairman or president. From business associations, to Toastmasters, the board of directors of Welcome Hall Mission and yes even president of Dio student council for a couple of years.
To ponder during moments in our lives and wonder what will be!
I remember reflecting one day while in my twenties about the year I would turn sixty–in other words, in what year I might be retired. Now over thirty-five years later, I have reached the sixty year mark but somehow skipped over the notion of retirement in order to fulfill a dream and a calling.
It was in 2008 when I applied to McGill and Montreal Diocean Theological College; and although I was very young at being an Anglican at the time, I felt quite old to become a student. It had been some forty years since I struggled as a teen through our provincial CEGEP program with no diploma to show for it. It was a big step of faith to leave a good career that I was comfortable with. However, in retrospect, through the encouragement of friends, associates (and especially my wife) this calling that had been building in my life for some years was answered within a few short months.
Joyce and I were introduced to college life at the college retreat in late August 2008. It was a great time to get to know one another in preparation for the many semesters to follow. I quickly met my fellow students as I used Principal Simons’ camera to take selfies with everyone. John Simons would exclaim later as he looked at his camera, “Who is this guy in all of my pictures?!” It was during these formative years at Dio that I began to realize and uncover what it was about ‘me’ being called to ordination in the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. It was a time of sharpening the focus and recognizing how God was developing me in his picture, his story.
Still, it wasn’t until just before my final year of training that I began to discover my innermost particular distinctiveness and how these unique characteristics and gifts would become an integral part of my ministry.
One of the prerequisites for ordinands is to take one unit of CPE (clinical pastoral education). Due to schedules of the M.Div. program, CPE is generally taken as an 11-week intensive course during the summer in Kingston ON; or in my case, Burlington VT. I chose Fletcher Allen Health Care due to the cost, the quality of the program, and the travelling distance. I was quite anxious in the first few weeks crossing the border because the course does not allow for many missed days and I had an unwarranted concern about its logistics. One morning the customs officer asked me, in a very professional tone, what I was doing in the US that required me to travel back and forth so often. After I explained, he revealed to me that he too had studied in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill. From then on my travel over the border was in peace as God specifically and tangibly affirmed his presence; he would most certainly not leave me abandoned at a border crossing! God was coaxing and developing within me the characteristic of relying on him; one that would comfort me as I would walk into rooms feeling so unprepared in visiting a stranger with needs greater than mine.
I soon understood that God’s plan was definitely greater than the pleasantries of a visit. It was me–with all my baggage of life experiences–who was being specifically called into rooms where patients, people with great needs would reach out through our commonalities and affirm that God had created a bond of trust and friendship within which a wonderful peace and healing would develop. This began to unfold and reveal itself to me as I worked through the CPE program along with twelve other chaplains and fellow students led by Fr. Jack Crabb. I soon realized through each visit, sometimes with great fear, that I had been called into specific situations designed for me and my calling by God into this ministry.
I came to realize that many of the low points, and the thorns of my life, had become the very cornerstone that God would use to bless my ministry. I was able to minister to the divorced, the widows and widowers, the churched from all denominations and to the unchurched, the turned-off-of-church, the homeless, and to those grieving the loss of parents, or of children taken too soon. In these struggles, I developed from within my own self and being the strengths and the potential that had become dormant or un-exercised. It was through counseling others (carefully guided, enhanced and accompanied by the FAHC CPE team with constant reflection and prayer) that I became a better pastor, listener, and husband. The program was developing more than just a good bedside manner. It was a tangible vehicle that edified and coached within me a healthier attitude of prayer, leaning deeper into and submitting my life and vocation to God. My times crossing the border, living and being developed for pastoral care by the CPE team walks with me every day. Pastoral care remains in focus in all my selfies now!