Canon Philip Wadham, General Synod’s mission coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, will soon leave on his last visit to the two regions before he retires in April.
From Jan.31 to Feb.6, Canon Wadham and other church house staff, will accompany the Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison to Cuba to attend a meeting of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba (MCC). In March, he will visit the churches in the province of the West Indies.
This will be the second visit to Cuba by Archbishop Hutchison, since his election as primate. He will be accompanied by his wife, Lois Hutchison, Vianney (Sam) Carriere, director of communications and information resources, Paul Feheley principal secretary to the Primate, and the newly appointed general secretary, Archdeacon Michael F. Pollesel. Rev. Michael Thompson, will represent the diocese of Niagara, as they have a companionship relation with the Episcopal Church of Cuba (IEC).
Although not designated officially, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has functioned as chair of the Metropolitan Council since its formation in 1967 with secretarial assistance from the Latin America/Caribbean Mission Coordinator.
As secretary of the MCC, Canon Wadham has seen the retirement of bishop Jorge Hurtado. In his place bishop Julio Cesar Holguin (from the Dominican Republic) was appointed as interim diocesan bishop for 2002. He in turn was succeeded by Bishop Miguel Tamayo of Uruguay.
Through the help of Cuban diocesan administrator Lay Canon Francisco de Arazosa, Canon Wadham was responsible for arranging the council meetings and ensuring the participation of all members, and also for making sure that action items were carried out.
“Through my experience as secretary, I have seen the strong bonds of affection between the Episcopal Church of Cuba and the Anglican Church of Canada growing stronger,” said Canon Wadham. The relationship was nurtured during the 20-year primacy of Archbishop Michael Peers, he said.
The last two-years have been very busy for Bishop Tamayo and his wife, Marta. “They both lead a busy life both in Cuba and Uruguay, where Marta is a deacon in the church and is heavily involved in AIDS ministry and also very involved in Cuba in various projects,” said Canon Wadham commending the bishop and his wife for their work in the diocese.
The Episcopal Church of Cuba today has more than 40 churches and missions, a membership of more than 3,500 and is served by 22 priests, men and women. These are assisted by deacons and lay readers. The role of the laity is strong and there are organisations within the IEC for women, youth and children.
Given some of the challenges that the people in Cuba are going through on a daily basis, “it has been encouraging to see the hope that the people have, not just through worship, but also through informal meetings,” said Canon Wadham.
Most important for Canon Wadham is the Seminario Evangelico de Teologia, a protestant theological seminary in Matanzas, where young men and women undergo leadership training.
The IEC has a significant presence at the college. “The college represents the future of IEC, since young people and young families make up the largest proportion of the church in Cuba,” said Canon Wadham.
While in Cuba, the Canadian group will also visit some projects supported by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, (PWRDF).
In March Canon Wadham will travel to the province of the West Indies for a three-week visit. Stephanie Peddle, Anglican Appeal coordinator will accompany him and visit projects supported by the appeal. They will also meet with Volunteers in Mission who are currently serving in the province.
Canon Wadham joined General Synod in 1997; his overseas experience included an appointment in 1970-1974 to Guatemala under the British Voluntary Service Overseas program where he taught carpentry and building skills to adults.
He trained for priesthood at the Vancouver School of Theology, and has served in parishes in the dioceses of Cariboo, Brandon and British Columbia.
Canon Wadham plans to remain active in the church after retirement. “I am looking forward to be again a part of the diocese of British Columbia, Vancouver Island where I am canonically resident,” he said. He will also spend more time in his workshop working on woodwork projects.
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