Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa
Palm Crosses



The Very Reverend Shane A.D. Parker
Dean of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa
Rector of Christ Church Cathedral

The Very Reverend Dean Shane Parker "We find our true nature when we locate God's love within us and allow ourselves to be guided by it in all we endeavour to do. To grasp this, however tentatively, is to receive a sense of hope and purpose that is alluring, affirming and life-changing."

The Very Reverend Shane Parker was born to Irish parents in Edmonton, Alberta, and lived in western Canada during his childhood. He worked as a labourer for several years before undergraduate and graduate studies in sociology at Carleton University, and was employed as a sociologist prior to studies in theology at Saint Paul University. He was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa in 1987 and was appointed as the Dean of Ottawa and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral in 1999. Prior to his appointment as dean, he served as a parish priest, a regional archdeacon, and then as the Diocesan Archdeacon.

Dean Parker's leadership of the Cathedral has been characterized by major change and renaissance in all aspects of its life and ministry. By cultivating an environment which encourages the sharing of many people's gifts, the liturgy, community and governance of the Cathedral have become both dynamic and focused. This has had the effect of opening up the Cathedral to become a truly diverse and vibrant parish—with strong ministries of worship, music, pastoral care, spiritual development, fellowship, and outreach.

The establishment of an endowment program, a reserve fund, and an annual stewardship cycle have steadily moved the Cathedral toward financial strength. The major redevelopment of Cathedral and Diocesan properties in partnership with the Windmill Development Group has completed its first phase, and the complete makeover of the lands surrounding the Cathedral is expected to conclude by 2019—and will see the Cathedral at the heart of a striking, sustainable, and pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood.

Dean Parker is well-known through participation in a number of organizations and causes in the wider community, and by continuing a long tradition of making the Cathedral available for many different kinds of civic and ecclesial events. In 2010 he was the recipient of the Interfaith Ottawa Award, presented by the Mayor of the City of Ottawa, for devoted service to promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

He has served as a sessional professor of pastoral theology at Saint Paul University and currently chairs its Anglican Studies Advisory Committee. He has also served for many years as a member of Carleton University's Research Ethics Board. Following many years of writing for the Ottawa Citizen's Ask the Religion Experts column, a collection of his insightful essays were published by Novalis in a book called Answering the Big Questions.

Dean Parker has trained in mediation and reconciliation, and is a member of the Ontario Association of Family Mediators. He currently serves as vice-chair and director on the board of the Anglican Foundation of Canada, and chair of its strategy committee.

Answering the Big Questions
Answering the Big Questions
Author: Shane Parker
Publisher: Novalis (2005)
Download (pdf)

The Reverend Canon Catherine Ascah
Pastoral Vicar

The Reverend Canon Catherine Ascah The Reverend Canon Catherine Ascah has served as Pastoral Vicar at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa since 2008. Catherine grew up in Montreal and London Ontario, studying French at Huron University College, and subsequently working for ten years in the private sector in the area of business relations, corporate compliance and dispute resolution. She returned to Huron University College for a Masters of Divinity. She was ordained deacon and priest in the Diocese of Huron in 2005, serving in hospital chaplaincy and as rector of the Anglican Parish of North Lambton.

After more than twenty-five years in southwestern Ontario, she left the rural shores of Lake Huron for urban Ottawa, to discover and share in the rich diversity, challenges and opportunities of Cathedral ministry in the Nation's Capital. Catherine is passionate about the ministry of servanthood and hospitality, grace-filled preaching, vital, transformative and carefully executed liturgy, liturgical renewal, and the awe inspiring mystery offered in the Anglican tradition.

Catherine's areas of ministry are pastoral care, liturgy, and hospitality. She collaborates with the other clergy and musicians who form the liturgical team to give shape to the various liturgies. During her time at the Cathedral, she has enabled Holy Table, Holy Song: intimate chancel Eucharists on Sunday afternoons in Lent which feature a musical reflection on the Scriptures, followed by a potluck supper. She was instrumental in crafting an additional Christmas Eve liturgy for families with young children. She facilitates Feasting on the Word, a weekly study of the Gospels at a local pub, where people of varying ages and stages of life come together to discuss what the Holy Scriptures are telling us today, and has introduced a catechetical format to baptism formation which sees families gathering to discuss their faith and what it means to be a community of the baptized. She is chaplain to the Cathedral Choirs and provides clergy support to the Pastoral Care Team.

Catherine sits on the Huron University College Alumni Executive Board and is an ancillary chaplain with the RCMP. Within the Diocese and National Church, she is the Diocesan Master of Ceremonies; a member of the Diocese's Advisory Panel on Termination of Clerical Appointments; a member of the Clergy Development Team; and has recently concluded her work as the Anglican Co-Chair of the Worship Committee for the 2013 Joint Assembly, an historic gathering of more than 800 Anglicans and Lutherans in Ottawa from across Canada.

All are welcome to come by and visit Catherine in her "cottage" office at the end of Lauder Hall, where there are comfy chairs, a fridge of all goodness, and a treasure chest with some surprises for all ages.

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LCol, The Reverend Canon Michelle Staples
Honourary Assistant

Michelle Staples Padre Michelle Staples was born and raised in the United Kingdom. Following service as a British Police Officer and a Civil Servant, she arrived in Canada and shortly thereafter commenced studies with Saint Paul University. Upon graduation, Padre Staples was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Ottawa where she served as curate to St. Matthias Church, and then rector of St. Mary's, Russell. In addition to her duties as parish priest, she served for 10 years on the Anglican Roman Catholic Dialogue (ARC Canada), acted as post ordination training coordinator for the diocese, served as a delegate to General Synod, a member of Faith Worship and Ministry for two terms, and as a member of the worship committee for General Synod 2003. She was appointed Canon Ecumenist for the Diocese of Ottawa in January 2001.

Joining the military in 2003, Padre Staples was posted to Greenwood NS during which time she served with 14 Air Maintenance Squadron, 404, 405 and 415 Squadron. Promoted to the rank of Major and posted in 2007 to Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, she served with the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and 427 Special Operations Squadron. During this time she provided ministry in diverse locations world-wide, working within a multi disciplinary team to provide Ministry of Presence to Canadian Special Operations Forces Command personnel and their families at home and abroad.

In the summer of 2010, she was posted as the Brigade Chaplain for 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group as the Senior Team Lead for 17 chaplains serving in Edmonton and Shilo. In November 2011 she was installed as a Canon of the church with the Anglican Military Ordinariate.

Promoted and posted to the Royal Canadian Navy in August of 2012, Padre Staples assumed the role of Maritime Atlantic Formation Chaplain, and in November 2012 received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for services to the members and families of the Canadian Armed Forces. In August of 2013 she was appointed Command Chaplain for the Royal Canadian Navy, and is currently residing in Ottawa.

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Matthew Larkin
Organist and Director of Music

Matthew Larkin Organist and Directory of Music A native of Oxford, UK, Matthew came to Canada shortly before his sixth birthday. His family settled in Kingston, Ontario, and he began singing as a chorister in the choir of St. George's Cathedral. As a youth, he studied piano, organ, violin, and cello, and was appointed assistant organist of St. George's in his junior year of high school.

Matthew attended both the University of Toronto and Royal College of Music, studying with John Tuttle and Nicholas Danby, respectively. While in Toronto, he served as Organist of St. John's Church, Weston Road, Organ Scholar of Trinity College, and Interim Organist of Grace Church-on-the-Hill. At the age of twenty-four, he moved to British Columbia to serve as Organist and Choirmaster at the Church of St. John the Divine in Victoria, remaining there for seven years. He returned to Ontario thereafter, and settled in Ottawa as Organist and Director of Music at St. Matthew's Church. After a further seven years there, he served for one season at St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, as Music Associate and director of the Men and Boys' Choir. On September 1st of 2015, he celebrated his twelve anniversary as Organist and Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral.

In addition to his ecclesiastical duties, Matthew has directed the Anglican Chorale of Ottawa, Euphonia Chamber Choir, the Ottawa Choral Society, and the Larkin Singers, and has served on the teaching staff of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.

A Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Matthew is an accomplished conductor, accompanist and recitalist. Additionally, he has led several performance tours of the UK, the USA, and Europe, with the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, the Larkin Singers, the Anglican Chorale of Ottawa, and the Ottawa Choral Society. Matthew is an enthusiastic composer of music for the Liturgy, and he has written and arranged scores for film, documentary, musical theatre, and popular music. Above all, he is tireless advocate of the cathedral choral tradition.

James Calkin
Associate Music Director & Director of the Girls' Choir

James Calkin "Music and music-making has, for me, been deeply rooted in the Church and in its choral tradition. It is my privilege to serve this Cathedral and its Choirs and to be a witness to the power of sacred music, attentively prepared and offered, to enrich lives, to build community and to deepen our relationship with God."

A native of Nova Scotia, James studied at Dalhousie (B.Mus. with a University Medal) and McGill Universities (M.Mus.) as well as the Eastman School of Music where his teachers were David MacDonald, John Grew, and David Higgs. Whilst at Eastman he was a graduate assistant to early music legend Paul O'Dette. In 1996-1997 a Canada Council for the Arts grant enabled advanced studies in France with the organists Louis Robilliard (Lyon) and Dominique Serve (Aix-en-Provence). James has also studied conducting with Denise Ham, Joseph Flummerfelt, Simon Carrington, and Hugh Floyd and participated in masterclasses hosted by Chorus America and the Conductors Institute at Bard College.

From 1994-96 he served as Assistant Organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Montréal having previously served as Assistant Organist at the University of King’s College, Halifax. From 1997-2001 he was Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Niles, Michigan, where he led a music program of seven choirs and well over one hundred singers. Prior to his appointment to the Cathedral, James served for ten years as Director of Music at First Baptist Church, Ottawa.

His freelance activities include performances and workshops for CAMMAC and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, as well as collaborative piano and continuo with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Choir, Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, the Ottawa Choral Society, the Ottawa Bach Choir, Cantata Singers of Ottawa, the Anglican Chorale and the National Youth Choir of Canada. From 2002-2007 he was conductor of Musica Viva Singers and in 2008 served as interim conductor of the University of Ottawa's choral ensembles. He is a frequent recitalist on distinguished instruments in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore and has performed at several national conventions of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

James has been the recipient of peer-adjudicated grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and the Nova Scotia Talent Trust as well as numerous academic awards at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has also been a prizewinner in numerous competitions including the National Playing Competition of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and the Lynnwood Farnam Organ Competition (Montréal).

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