CASC/ACSS Conference 2019
Check out the new “Fun Run Walk Roll Group” page in our Members Only area- Click the bottom tab on the left hand side bar. Kim Bustard has lots of great ideas for how to participate in and prepare for the Fun Run no matter where in Canada you live.
This year’s honoree is Rev. Dr. Chris Coffin
Here is a short summary of Chris’s CASC/ACSS connections.
I have been a member of CASC (formerly CAPPE) for over 30 yrs. In 1996 I was certified as a Specialist. At that time I was a full time Chaplain in a small provincial correctional facility. My employer was very pleased that I had received this certification. In 2000 the Department of Justice closed this small institution in favor for a new facility (Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility), that was two and half times larger than the old one. I was transferred to the new facility and immediately realized that I needed help. Having been refused an additional chaplain and with the support of my employer I decided to start working towards certification as a Teaching Supervisor.
In 2001, I began looking for a Supervisor who would take me on as provisional in a correctional setting. In spite of the fact, like all his colleagues; the Reverend Canon Ed Fiander, who also had no correctional experience, agreed to take me under his wing. We did three units together as a Provisional before I applied for Associate and completed the required two units. I worked another five years as a Teaching Supervisor at CNSCF, completing 6 units; one of which was a joint venture with the Capital Health Authority.
After eighteen years I retired from CNSCF in 2010. One year later the Atlantic Regional Chaplain for Correctional Services Canada asked if I would start teaching again in the Springhill Institution. I agreed and started a program in 2012. I encouraged the resident chaplain Peg Noseworthy to join my team as a Provisional. Over the next few years we worked together, including helping her with her Associate application. Peg was successful and in is now the Teaching Supervisor in the newest provincial institution in Nova Scotia.
I have been asked to tell a story. I have worked in or visited in every federal and provincial correctional institution in the Maritimes. There are so many beautiful people I have met in every one of them. I could write a book. If I have to pick one, it would be someone I journeyed with over twenty years. I will call her Mary.
I first met her in my first years as a chaplain. She was17. How she arrived in jail at that age I don’t know, but I was asked to see her. When I first saw her, I just wanted to take her home to be a sister to my three girls. Mary had been on the streets since she was 12 years old. She had run away from home to stop being a victim of sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriend. Every time she entered my facility she asked to see me. We talked about life on street, her boyfriend who also introduced her to drugs and the general struggle to get clean. Over the years I tried get her in programs and help from community support groups, to no avail.
My final meetings with Mary, was when I visited her several times in hospital. The years of street life and dirty needles finally caught up with her. She was dying of Aids. My last prayers for her were when I presided over her funeral. I can never forget her. She will always be a child to me. May she finally rest in peace.
I am so grateful for my wife Dianne and my children who supported and sacrificed so much for me, and for all the people who recognized that Corrections is a valid setting for Spiritual Care.
Rev. Dr. F. Christopher (Chris) Coffin, BA, MDiv, MTh, DMin