Each month we’ll be featuring a profile on one of the Saint Benedict Parish staff members so parishioners can get to know them a little better and get a better sense of what they do at the parish. This month, we’re featuring Dinah Simmons.

What’s your job at the parish?
DINAH: My job has changed a number of times over the years. I started out as Director of Religious Education. That changed to Director of Catechesis, then to Director of Faith Formation. I was also Pastoral Associate. There may have been a few others I don’t even remember! I think what’s on my name tag now is Director of Sacramental Preparation and Liturgy, though that could be simplified to Worship & Sacraments.

What staff team are you on?
I am on the Worship & Sacraments Team, and I am also on the Disciple Formation Team.

How long have you worked at the parish?
I started 20 years ago at St. Lawrence Parish and was part of the amalgamation of the three parishes that formed this one. I’ve been here at Saint Benedict since it opened.

What does your job entail? What’s a typical week look like for you?
I oversee more than twenty ministries, and I really try to support and encourage them, to help them feel connected to the parish vision and Game Plan, and to work with the team leads on any issues. I do what I can to support and help them to feel part of the bigger picture of the parish and of our mission.

On Sundays, I’m often involved in PACT sessions (preparation for First Reconciliation and First Communion). I sit with the families at the 9am Mass and some weeks we head downstairs afterwards for a family- centred session. Often times during the week I’ll meet with one or two team leaders from the ministries I oversee. And there are a lot of emails going back and forth with team leads. Then there’s also regular staff team meetings, as well as working on things like the Prayers of the Faithful, preparing for various meetings, preparing for the next weekend, that sort of thing. I also do some Bible studies. And I’m the spiritual advisor for the Catholic Women’s League. Those are some of the main things!

What do you like most about working at Saint Benedict Parish?
Definitely the people! Often when I’m at Mass, I watch the lines of people going to and from Communion, and I feel such a connection, such a love for them. I love seeing the families I’ve journeyed with in PACT and other ministries, seeing them get more deeply connected and growing in faith. I am so grateful for the ministry leads, for their commitment and generosity. I work with such giving and loving people on our staff team and all the ministry teams. And I don’t just work with them or for them; I journey in faith with them. I get to grow in my discipleship alongside them.

Do you have a favourite memory from your time working here?
What first comes to mind is being asked by Fr. Owen Connolly in my job interview if I would be able to do some adult faith formation. (My original job description was focused on children’s faith formation.) I said “Sure,” but I was thinking: there’s no way I can speak to groups of grown-ups; that’s way too scary. But I took it on. Journeying in faith with adults has become such a rich experience, such a gift: learning together, praying together, sharing one another’s stories. In particular, I have loved doing Bible studies. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve done!

There was also the time when some parishioners nominated me for the Elizabeth Seton award, given by the Sisters of Charity. They said they wanted to recognize my support and encouragement during the time of transition from three parishes to one. At the award luncheon, so many of them were there; it was a great joy and a great blessing for me. 

Many of the same parishioners – and my Bible study friends in particular – secretly took up a collection so I could join one of Fr. James’ pilgrimages to the Holy Land. That was certainly the trip of a lifetime and I was overwhelmed by such generosity.

Finally, all the people who came to Mom’s funeral, and to my Aunt Mary’s funeral, all the people who were so kind to them every time I brought them to Mass or to parish events. I am so deeply grateful for the ways our parishioners have shown God’s love to me.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m a big fan of mystery stories; I’ve read every Agatha Christie. I love reading in general, and in addition to mysteries I read poetry and lots of books on spirituality.

I love board games. My daughter has a huge collection so we play lots of different ones. I enjoy doing crossword puzzles. I love to swim. I enjoy going for walks. I also volunteer with the. St. Vincent de Paul Society, I’m an Associate of the Sisters of Charity, and I’m on the board of a local non- profit organization. I enjoy spending time whenever I can with my grandson Elliott, who just turned two, and I am always happy being with my family.

This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of the Bene Dictus.