From the desk of The Rev. Ada Wong Nagata
THANK YOU ALL FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART衷 心 感 謝
Two months! I have been gone on sabbatical for two months. I returned last Sunday, rested, refreshed, and with gratitude to you all. I thank my colleagues and many parishioners who covered for me while I was gone. I especially thank you all for offering me this time off to refresh my body, mind and spirit.
You may wonder what I did with all this time off. Let me share with you my time off with some reflections. The goals for my sabbatical were to rest, renew, reflect, and recharge. To achieve these goals I did some traveling.
First I went to attend WACCF (World Anglican Chinese Clergy Fellowship) held in Hong Kong, then to visit Diocese of Taiwan.
The theme of WACCF was "Becoming a Contagious Church." The speaker talked about evangelism and growing the church. This was the second time I attended this conference, just as I felt last time, I am very blessed to be in the U. S. especially as a woman clergy. The Episcopal Church (TEC) ordains woman clergy whereas some of the Chinese Anglican churches in the Dioceses of South East Asia and Australia only ordain woman to be deacons but not priests. In the Closing Eucharist, it was TEC's turn to celebrate. The occasional rebellious me suggested to the Celebrant Bishop Lai of Diocese of Taiwan which is part of TEC, that we should have a woman clergy as preacher. He agreed and appointed one of the senior woman clergy to preach. He also asked all of us, men and women clergy to vest for the service. So we did. The woman preacher did a marvelous job. Afterward some women, both laity and deacon from S.E. Asia voiced their admiration of us having women priests, and were overjoyed to see a woman in the pulpit and other women clergy at the altar.
The visit to the Diocese of Taiwan was to visit with Joanna Fu who is the organist at St. John's Cathedral Taipei, Taiwan. She came to study Episcopal hymns and liturgy at Church of Our Saviour with Canon Philip Smith last year, and also to build up relationship with the diocese and at the same time see how Li Tim-Oi Center and the diocese can work together. I made few more friends from Taiwan and have been connecting with them through Facebook. One thing I learned from this diocese is hospitality. The folks, clergy and laity, went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Most of the clergy are provided with housing, they always keep a spare room for visitors.
After some rest from the Asia trip, I went to Live Oak, Florida to attend a CREDO conference. CREDO is a clergy and lay employee well being program provided by Church Pension Group. It describes that, "CREDO is designed to provide opportunities for people to examine significant areas of their lives and to discern prayerfully the future direction of their vocations as they respond to God’s call in a lifelong process of practice and transformation. This conference offers the opportunity for participants to reflect on key aspects of their lives (financial, health, spiritual, and vocational) and to discern the future direction of their life and ministry." I had gone to this conference once before. This is a well designed program for the busy clergy to help them to slow down and think deeper. This time our goal was to set up our Rule of Life. One of my rules is "continue to learn new things" and I did this after my return. I learned how to set up an online newsletter and make You Tube movies.
My last travel stop was my Pilgrimage to Canterbury in the United Kingdom. Canterbury is the root of Christianity in the English-speaking world. There are three historic sites that I visited:
- St. Martin's Church, the oldest church in the English-speaking world,
- St. Augustine's Abbey, the Italian monk August was sent by the Pope on a mission to convert English people to Christianity in 6th century. It was from here that the conversion began.
- Canterbury Cathedral, where St. Augustine founded the cathedral on this early church site.
I stayed at the Canterbury Cathedral Lodge, right across from the Cathedral. Every morning I woke up to the sight of the beautiful cathedral and every night I watched the spectacular cathedral with lights shining on it before I slept. I attended their daily Morning Eucharist and Evensong song by the famous Boys' and adult choir. It was heavenly.
During the opening hours, I could walk in the cathedral and looked at the beautiful stained glass windows and contemplated on the inspiring and faithful stories from the Bible and the saints, or prayed in one of the chapels designated for quiet prayer. However, the noise level from the visitors outside was quite high, not quiet at all. Or I could do my meditative walk in the cloister. The stay in Canterbury was really restful and prayerful. I was able to slow down and further unwind. I also managed to visit London for a few playful days with my son. I took many pictures of the historic sites, and in the process of making them into slideshows. I will share the history I learned in the future forums.
Towards the end of my sabbatical, I attended a few rewarding events. First, my son graduated from his three-year pediatrics residency program, then I presented a seminarian whom I shepherded in the last three years to be ordained as a deacon, and finally four gentlemen, whom I mentored for a couple of years graduated from the four-year Education for Ministry Program of the University of the South. What a blessed way to wrap up my sabbatical.