Full circle

The Archbishop of Adelaide commissioned the Revd Peter Balabanski as Parish Priest of St John’s Halifax Street on 16 February.

The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith began the service in a packed St John’s with a Statement of Acknowledgement of Country, and Kaurna elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien followed with a Welcome to Country.

The Venerable Gwilym Henry-Edwards, Archdeacon of the City and the Port; the Revd Keith Brice, Area Dean of Adelaide; and Doctors Jill Benson and Paul Hyam, St John’s Wardens, took part in the commissioning, along with representatives of the Parish of Stirling (Peter Balabanski’s previous Parish) and the Parish of St John’s.

In addressing the congregation, Peter said he had come full circle in an association with St John’s and SSM that stretches back more than 30 years.

Peter came to St John’s in 1994 to complete his training for ordination under the supervision of SSM’s Christopher Myers and Dunstan McKee. Francis Horner SSM became Peter’s spiritual director as well as his teacher in the pastoral and liturgical aspects of ordained ministry, and Joyce Bleby trained Peter in leadership. Peter was ordained Deacon at St John’s in November 1995. He was priested at St Peter’s Cathedral in February 1997 after a year in Jerusalem as a Deacon at St George’s Cathedral.

The SSM connection actually began during an earlier time in Jerusalem, where Peter, and his wife Vicky, lived with Gilbert Sinden and Tom Brown from October 1987 to March 1988, participating in the daily round of the four offices (morning prayer, midday office, evening prayer and compline) and the Eucharist. Vicky and Peter were both studying at the École Biblique: Vicky was working on her doctorate and Peter was teaching at the Aqbat Jabr refugee camp in Jericho.

It was during this time living with Gilbert and Tom that Peter’s vocation began to crystallise, and he says the men were both wonderful mentors and became fast friends of the family from then on.

The SSM connection is still very much alive for Peter and Vicky. ‘Daily office doesn’t feel at all right if it doesn’t start with an ancient plainsong office hymn to claim the space and time for being in God’s presence. And the memorial to Francis Horner in the garden outside our now kitchen window, is a precious reminder that evokes the guidance and kindness of this very gentle man,’ he says.

Peter treasures the circle closing with a return to St John’s and wonders what God might have in mind with this call back to his beginnings.

Christopher Myers stepped down from his role as Parish Priest of St John’s in October 2017.

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