St. Matthias’ parishioners, friends of the Rev. Andreas Sigrist, and several clergy of the Edmonton diocese gathered on the evening of Wednesday, January 11 to celebrate the beginning of a new ministry. Appointed as St. Matthias’ rector in November 2022, Sigrist moved from Jasper and began the process of settling in with his wife Melanie and their four sons. Wednesday’s service marked his formal induction to the post, with Bishop Stephen London officiating.
Sigrist worked with the Bishop to include elements of Indigenous ceremony at the start of the induction liturgy. Clergy participated in a smudge before processing into the service. Then, as the service began, the Ven. Travis Enright, Archdeacon for Reconciliation and Decolonization, used an eagle feather to symbolically ‘brush away’ anything that might hinder Sigrist’s new ministry at St. Matthias’.
Enright was joined by the Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman, the Rev. Quinn Strikwerda, the Very Rev. Alex Meek, and the Rev. Nick Trussell in singing a Cree song in which the main word and theme is wichinan. Wichinan means ‘help me’ and is repeated through the verses as a plea for assistance, first to Creator and but also to the gathered and surrounding community. Sharman says the group chose the song because it fit the occasion of an induction, which highlights not only the ministry of a rector, but the expanding circles of ministry surrounding the priest and parish.
These elements and acknowledgments are very important to Sigrist. “I deeply appreciated the gift of a song, smudge, and prayers. The brushing with the feather was especially powerful and meaningful. There was a sense of healing and a new beginning making space to learn from past mistakes.”
“I don't see how we as Anglicans can faithfully be the church without intentionally walking the path of truth and reconciliation,” he says. “To be honest, I worry that we sometimes jump too quickly to reconciliation without first honoring the truth which requires repentance on behalf of the church. It seems to me that God is inviting us to heal from the deep wound/sickness of settler Christianity. That healing journey, that's what repentance is all about. It's an invitation to become the kind of people God has called and created us to be.”
The induction liturgy includes many symbols that mark the nature of priestly ministry in a parish. One after another, parishioners of St. Matthias presented:
For Sigrist, the one word that best describes it all is support. “I feel supported,” he says, “and the induction confirmed that St. Matthias’ and I are a good fit. It feels like I am in the right place at the right time. It is rewarding and fulfilling to experience my gifts being appreciated.”