Not everyone is willing to step up for a challenge, even when it sounds interesting.
But the Rev. Veronica Roynon has stepped up for many challenges over her life. Her latest is to be screened to work as a spiritual care professional at Sunnybrook conducting a Sunday church service in H Wing three Sundays a month for anyone to attend, and then visiting veterans individually in K wing on Sunday and Monday. She continues to volunteer at the Central North Correctional Centre, a maximum security institution in Penetanguishene monthly. While in Toronto, she stays with her son in Leaside and also visits with her daughter in the Beaches.
While Veronica is now an ordained priest in the Anglican Church, her route to the priesthood was not a straight line. In fact, she had no idea she would be called to the church when she came to Canada from England with a job offer to nurse. She worked first in Peterborough, and then got a room in a house on Millwood Rd. with friends. She found employment in the OR at Sunnybrook, and then at Sick Kids as a paediatric nurse.
After the birth of her son, David, she realized that it was difficult to work and find childcare. So she plopped David into his stroller and saw the government day nursery officials about opening an infant daycare centre. The officials asked if she would agree to get certification in Early Childhood Education – which she did at night school. She then went searching for space and found a house on Laird Dr. that was zoned commercial. She had to say she was teaching the babies singing and dancing in order to get her licence to care for 12 infants between the ages of 2 months and 2½ years.
This was the start of Leaside Daycare in 1971. When the house at 100 McRae, zoned residential, came on the market, she bought it, because with residential zoning, she and her staff could care for 32 infants, plus the house had three floors and a big fenced yard.
All was going well until these infants were too old to stay. No problem! 73 Fleming came on the market and was bought for use with children 2½ to 5 years. The Rolph Rd. space for school-aged children was next, but this time as a not-for-profit with parents as a board of directors. Veronica is no longer involved, but Leaside Daycare continues successfully to this day.
The next, more pastoral, phase of Veronica’s life started at St. Cuthbert’s Church. A new priest, Michael Thompson, recognized her spiritual gifts. Ian and Jo Nicholl, originally church friends, with a cottage in Port Sydney, encouraged her to find a cottage there too. Instead, she found a century home and moved there. Through correspondence, she got the qualifications to become a lay reader in the Anglican Church.
Then came a fateful phone call. “Hello, this is the Bishop of Algoma, and I’d like to speak to Veronica Roynon,” said a voice. Veronica’s reply? “Oh, I can do better than that – this is the Queen of England.” The voice came back, “But I am the Bishop of Algoma, and you are NOT the Queen.” He was offering her a position in Manitouwadge in Northern Ontario near Marathon to be a full-time lay minister. Off she went for three years, but decided to progress from being a lay reader to an Anglican priest, and acquired her Master of Divinity from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. That was 13 years ago.
After serving as a priest in various parishes in the Diocese of Algoma, she is now formally retired, but continues as a spiritual companion or director for individuals – a version of “one on one ministry, which I love,” she says. Now she’s ready for her next adventure at Sunnybrook. You can be sure there will be a lot of one on one ministry.