Rev. Roberta Bedard holds the rank of Appointed Designated Minister with Clergy Support Memorial Church (March 16, 2020). Her extensive experience in education and her dedicated time spent volunteering in her community were the encouraging considerations for the board to unanimously appoint Rev Roberta to Youth and Bereavement Care Ministry. Her rich encounters and intrinsic qualities are the foundations that lead her to answer the vocation of serving our church and her goal to create a memorable and positive experience to those she serves in her community.
Academic Background & Training
- Graduate certificate – Canadian Celebrants Institute (2021)
- Master of Education – Nipissing University (2007)
- Bachelor of Education – Nipissing University (1989)
- Bachelor of Arts – Ottawa University (1978)
Service Club Membership & Awards
- Ontario College of Teachers (1989 – present)
- Ontario Principal’s Council (20 years service)
- Nipissing University – Faculty Advisor (Since 2019)
Youth & Bereavement Care Ministry
Rev. Roberta Bedard’s call to ministry is founded in a successful and enriching career in education, where she was privileged and honoured to support youth in reaching their life goals. A sincere and genuine interest in people generally shines through her conversations with others, sharing her belief that there is a purpose in all that we do and that we gain more in giving than receiving.
In both her professional and personal life, she experienced the sudden and tragic loss of young children, parents, school staff, as well as the terminal illness of several loved ones. These collective experiences have been instrumental in her becoming part of Clergy Support Memorial and her drive to provide bereavement and pastoral care for others.
Over the years her rural community experienced four separate incidents of tragedy and/or terminal illness which caused an entire community to grieve. Roberta remained strong in an effort to provide for normalcy for a terminally-ill teenager, as she visited the family in a hospital some 240 km away, and offered her help to coordinate with funeral staff on the various life celebration services.
Occassionaly she provides counselling and would sit down with the single parent of a teen to listen to their realities, collaborating with the wider community in preparing meals, and reaching out to child counsellors and CERT Team for additional support.
Rev. Bedard holds a firm belief that living life to the fullest with compassion infused with patience hopefully brings comfort and helps others in their healing.
Raised in the Catholic faith, traditional prayer and observance of the religious calendar influenced her life at home and school for decades. Each Sunday, she and her six siblings all dressed in their very best and would attend mass where they would listen to unnecessarily long sermons. They attended Confession to receive Communion – a practice that extended well into young adulthood. As her parents did for her and her siblings, she continued the tradition of obtaining the holy sacraments with her own children.
Rev. Bedard considers it is human nature to want a connection with an entity they can trust to lead them spiritually. There are non-denominational churches for which she respects their endeavours to incorporate central teachings that a wider cross-section of the population finds meaningful. While she believes in God, there are so many aspects of her spirituality she has yet to discover and fully understand. She believes God reaches out to her through others and through destiny. In times of struggle, she confides in God hoping to receive strength.
She considers herself a person of tremendous faith. Her relationship with God continues to blossom as she reflects on the quality of her spiritual life. Although she still recites the prayers of her childhood likely because they are so engrained, she now finds solace in her more meaningful activities of mindfulness at the end of most days. She makes time to reflect on the impact of her day-to-day decisions, the welfare of others and how she can be a better person the following day, Roberta believes we have a moral compass that leads us to continuously engage in deep reflection in order to remain true to ourselves. With an open mind comes growth.
Her congregation is her community at large. It consists of people she may or may not know as well in settings of all sizes and with varying degrees of formality. Her image of a utopian congregation is based on universality and inclusiveness. She enjoys attending non-denominational celebrations which were unknown to her during childhood – in which people demonstrate their faith and respect and love for each other through inspirational teachings that resonate with all ages and beliefs. As a life-long learner, she welcomes opportunities to further enhance her spirituality through training, presentations and shared reflections.
Providing palliative care for her brother required an inner strength that was tested on multiple occasions. Her brother’s journey was an emotional roller coaster of hope, pain, and sorrow. Much like her now deceased mother, her brother Greg remained a source of inspiration, strength, and dignity until the end. Present for his final breath, Roberta witnessed the most beautiful passage and was privileged to see the beauty of those final moments. This experience taught her some valuable lessons; including asking for forgiveness, accepting one’s life choices, seizing every opportunity to share our love, and realizing it is the little things that truly matter at the end. Had she known that this level of intimacy would be Greg’s last gift to her, she would have thanked him for enriching her pastoral journey.
Rev. Roberta continuously dedicates much of her spare time to her community in many ways that have inspired her and have been a blessing to her ministry. She has volunteered her time as lead event coordinator for an Aboriginal Career Expo, the Centennial Community Celebration and her knowledge has been sought by the East Ferris Public Library and for an annual event for active seniors by the East Ferris 50+ Seniors Club. Roberta is featured as a contributor in a local community magazine published bi-annually where she writes submissions featuring human interest stories of members of the community to highlight their accomplishments.
Having the opportunity to work alongside agencies such as One Kid’s Place Treatment Centre and community groups including the Lions’ Club and the Royal Canadian Legion, she developed a genuine admiration for their hard work. These partnerships taught her the value of working collaboratively towards a common goal.
Much of Roberta’s personal growth stems from recommended literature, and self-reflection. Often, her partner and offspring are her sounding boards as she continues to try to sort the best course of action for a given situation. As a baby boomer, she does not necessarily share the same values of more recent generations. Hence, the reason why she seeks opinions from the younger generation to help shape her understanding of what values reside in Millennials and Centennials. Part and parcel of being open-minded is bridging the generational gaps.
One important part of Rev. Roberta’s ministry is to seek a greater sense of fulfillment by reaching out to others. Having been blessed by the unconditional love and support of family and friends, she yearns to pave the way for others to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. She is presently simplifying her life by de-cluttering of nonessentials and prioritizing short and longer-term decisions based on what will generate the greatest personal fulfillment.
The call to serve in ministry affords her a unique opportunity to discover her inner creativity, expand her civic interests and attempt activities outside of her current comfort level. While she remains young at heart, she does think of her own mortality and the legacy she wishes to create. Whom she is today is a result of the people she has met and the events she has lived along this life journey. As a life-long learner, she is always seeking ways to accumulate knowledge.
“Communication is the vehicle by which we can better understand and appreciate the cultural and religious diversity of our communities. As we rarely have the benefit of fully immersing ourselves in another’s culture, we must seek to gain knowledge in resourceful ways. We recognize there are multiple belief systems which may or may not align with ours; however, who are we to impose our belief system on others?”
As Appointed Designated Minister – Rev. Bedard upholds the high moral standards of the Clergy Support Memorial Church in all aspects of her life, serving others in the most respectful manner with integrity and dignity. She is committed to sincerely honouring the belief systems of the people she serves. It is a privilege to help others celebrate non-denominational and same-sex marriages, as well as offering emotional support through pastoral care.