Mary Hatfield was the face of Quebec-Sherbrooke Presbytery youth ministry for almost 20 years.
Youth ministry in the Townships began as an initiative of the Rev. Ron Coughlin and Professor Ken Johns. Not long after it was decided to hire a youth worker to carry on what they began on a volunteer basis, Mary and her husband Carson were engaged, and then Mary became the fulltime youth worker.
She organised – with some faithful volunteer assistants as well as groups of young people – two annual youth weekends, the Youth Forum, theme chosen and planned by and with youth delegates, and the November weekend where she or her assistants chose the theme and planned the event. The weekends were held mostly in local schools, requiring lots of careful logistics regarding eating, meeting and sleeping arrangements.
Presbytery set up a Youth Worker Support Group on which I served for 20 years, the majority of them in Mary’s reign. She was a delight to work with: a smiling elf-like presence, strong in her faith and totally devoted to making safe places for young people, mostly teenagers. I despaired only when I had to prepare the annual budget and decipher her ‘artisanal’ financial scratchings on legal-size yellow pages.
Mary was game for all kinds of adventures, including a visit to youth on the Lower North Shore and leading, with the Rev. Tom Edmonds, an exchange with youth in Jamaica.
We were blessed by Mary’s ministry and by those who succeeded her, including Eleanor Archer, Helen Alain & Judy Frost, Victoria Moulton and now Shanna Bernier. And we are proud our Presbytery youth weekends led to similar programmes at the national level.
Rest in peace, beloved Mary.
- shared by Vivienne Galanis