There is a new person in the pulpit at St. Giles Anglican Church in Estevan.
Rev. Mark Osborne landed in Estevan just over a week ago to assume the duties as minister at Estevan's iconic downtown church which is currently undergoing major expansion and renovations.
Osborne, who lost his wife Kathleen to cancer approximately three years ago, is making the move with his children, Jonathon 13, and Hannah 12. They are now getting settled in, having moved from Stettler, Alta. to take on the Estevan and area parish duties.
According to Osborne, the Estevan posting came highly recommended by former ministers Mike Sinclair and David Holmes who spoke to him about the community the congregation and the support he would receive here.
Born in Calgary he was raised in Edmonton and completed his seminary training in Saskatoon's College of Emmanuel and St. Chad. Osborne had previously earned a degree in zoology at the University of Alberta and a bachelor of education degree from the University of Calgary.
One of his first postings, after receiving the divinity degree, was at Manning/Deadwood in Alberta, a small shared parish between the Anglican and United Church which he enjoyed a lot.
He also taught for nine years at St. John's School in Alberta and prior to that he made some use of his zoology background by working at the John Jansen Nature Centre for a little over a year.
“It was my first real job and I was pretty happy, but of course in those days I had no major responsibilities. I also had some time as a banquet waiter in Edmonton and the times and money were good until the National Energy Program arrived and knocked the oil industry down,” he said with a chuckle.
The Osbornes were married while he was teaching at St. John's, and in fact were united in the school's chapel. They then spent time in Saskatoon and Red Deer.
Osborne said he was ordained as a deacon in 1996 and as a priest in 1997.
The couple started raising their children and moved to Stettler in 2002 where his wife had some family roots, but her cancer advanced quickly following diagnosis and she died in 2009.
Looking for new direction, Osborne said “at first blush, I wasn't even thinking of Estevan's posting, I had seen it listed but wasn't considering it, but I was also ready to move on, so after doing some substitute work in teaching and in the pulpit, I knew I needed to get on with a full-time post and get on with my life. Stettler was fantastic, but eventually it became just a little too painful to stay there. Then I got talking with David Holmes who had served for quite awhile in Estevan and he told me about how good it was here and then I talked with Mike Sinclair's father and his family and eventually spoke to Mike and he was all positive about Estevan, so I applied. The kids and I came out in February to look around and we're here now.”
Osborne admitted that the move had created a minor upheaval, especially for his children, and that he probably wasn't the world's most popular dad for awhile, but as they have started to meet Estevanites, the transition is becoming a bit easier.
Osborne was officially inducted into the St. Giles' pulpit on July 15 in a ceremony led by the Bishop of the Qu'Appelle Diocese Greg Kerr-Wilson with Sinclair also participating in the ceremony as part of the welcoming process.
“It's going to be interesting. The renovations at the church, getting orientated ... the congregation seems to be a pretty strong one. We should be fine. The kids have staked out their rooms at home and are actually helping each other unpack. I take that as a good sign,” he added with a laugh.
When he isn't busy behind the pulpit or desk, Osborne enjoys tae kwon do, a passion he shares with his son who has also taken up the martial arts.
As a busy family, the Osbornes can now look forward to being an integral part of a busy community.
The St. Giles congregation is pleased to once again have a full-time minister tending to the flock since they have carried on without one for almost a year after Sinclair departed for a new post in Regina.