Guyana Church Looking to Recruit Canadian Priests

Article excerpt

Rev. Geoffrey Dolphin knows all about brain drain.

The Anglican priest from Guyana says his country is desperately short of priests and is often unable to keep the ones it trains. Fr. Dolphin and his wife, Thelma, spent three months in Canada this summer, mostly in B.C. They were guests of Bishop Barry Jenks of B.C. who hosted them and organized a full itinerary. They know the bishop from the three years he spent in Guyana.

The Dolphins came partly because they had always wished to visit Canada but also to try to convince Canadian priests -- retired or considering sabbaticals -- to work in Guyana for a time.

Just 52 priests, many of whom are elderly and of retirement age, are currently responsible for 200 Guyanese churches, Fr. Dolphin said during an interview in Toronto.

In comparison to the pace he often led during his 25 years as a priest, Fr. Dolphin is now living a fairly relaxed life with just two congregations to minister to. He once had as many as 13.

"To cope, I had to do six services on a Sunday -- three in the morning and three in the afternoon," he said.

He may have had some success in encouraging Canadian priests to come to Guyana. Bishop Jenks told him six B.C. priests had expressed interest. Philip Wadham, the Anglican Church of Canada's Latin America and Caribbean Mission Coordinator, has been in touch with the Bishop Terence Finlay of Toronto about the possibility of some of Toronto's priests travelling to Guyana.

People are not flocking to work as priests in Guyana largely because of the poor pay, Fr. Dolphin believes. Priests -- no matter how many years of experience -- earn the equivalent of about $210 Cdn a month. …