Cameron Saunders: The Journey to Priesthood
In a profound celebration of faith and dedication, Deacon Cameron Simeon Adriel Saunders is poised to embark on a new chapter in his spiritual journey as he prepares for ordination to the Sacred Priesthood. The Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood will take place on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, at 7:00 p.m., in the historical Christ Church Cathedral, Downtown Nassau coinciding with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Deacon Saunders’ path to the priesthood is a remarkable narrative, interwoven with deep-rooted faith, a childhood steeped in the Anglican tradition, and an insatiable quest for spiritual fulfilment. Born to the Rev’d. Fr. Colin Saunders and Revon Saunders (nee Smith), his upbringing was a testament to the power of faith and service within the family.
“It wasn’t always easy,” Deacon Saunders reflects, “There were days when many of my friends were enjoying Christmas and Easter vacations, travelling and visiting family, while I had to stay at home and attend Mass on Christmas Day or miss the vibrant Junkanoo celebrations. But somehow, as my relationship with God grew, and my faith developed, I started to embrace and love those activities.”
Deacon Saunders’ childhood was profoundly influenced by his father, Fr. Colin Saunders, who serves as an Anglican Priest within our Diocese.
He vividly recalls accompanying his father on visits to the sick and shut-in members of their parish, moments that, although seemingly ordinary at the time, would profoundly shape his spiritual journey.
“My dad, when he was posted on Eleuthera, would sometimes take me along with him to sick and shut-in visitations,” Deacon Saunders recalls. He would take me to the Patronal services, possibly for the company, likely for the exposure, but those moments of time with him, seeing him minister to older folks, who couldn’t smile any bigger when he came, and going through the visitation rite—it was absolutely boring as a kid. However, over time, I grew to love and embrace the community, those moments, and the impact. Those moments stuck with me.”
In preparation for his ordination, Deacon Saunders continued to incorporate regular prayer into his daily routine, notably embracing the practice of praying the Anglican Rosary. He found this practice to be “beautiful, simple, short, and impactful” for settling his spirit and focusing on God’s guidance throughout the day.
“The Anglican Rosary has helped me to approach my day and tasks spiritually, leaning on God, as others seem to lean, partly on me and what I offer,” Deacon Saunders shared.
Deacon Saunders acknowledges that one of the most significant challenges he faced on his journey was balancing his roles as a minister and a
family man. Early in his diaconate, he and his wife welcomed a daughter, adding to their responsibilities as parents to their son.
Parenthood has had a profound impact on Deacon Saunders’ spiritual journey. “Having children has definitely made God more real to me,” he says. “It has given grace, forgiveness, determination, and steadfastness a new meaning. I have a renewed appreciation for the Gospel now.”
“Dedicating myself to my work as a minister while being present and helpful to my wife, maintaining a healthy relationship, and nurturing my bond with our son, as well as developing a relationship with our newborn, was challenging,” Deacon Saunders admitted. “But I found that, despite the exhaustion, when I threw myself into both my family and my ministry, God supplied the strength to get everything done.”
In our Anglican Diocese, deacons primarily serve in liturgical roles, and their ordination is considered transitional. Reflecting on this, Cameron notes that there is potential for deacons to play a broader role in the church, serving in administrative, pastoral, and catechetical capacities, as demonstrated in the biblical precedent found in Acts.
When asked about the influence of his father, Fr. Colin Saunders, on his decision to become a priest, Cameron shares, “Indirectly, I watched the way my father ministered, and I observed the genuine responses to the way he engaged parishioners and empowered and supported them. As I felt the call to ministry grow stronger, I felt God leading me toward this way of ministry as well. I believe that way of ministry will be helpful throughout my vocation as a Priest.”
Looking ahead, Deacon Saunders expresses his aspirations as a priest, both personally and for his community. “I hope to welcome and nurture another generation of Christians, whether Anglican or not,” he shares. “I believe that the Christ and His good news of healing and reconciliation with God will always be transformative to His world. I also believe that there are certain psychosocial benefits that being a part of the Church has for individuals and the community. So, I hope to encourage a new generation of active Christian ministry that will improve lives personally and nationally.”
On a personal note, Cameron hopes to minister to young people, particularly young men, encouraging them to channel their talents and skills into constructive endeavours.
Throughout his training as a Deacon, Cameron has had the privilege of engaging in touching interactions with members of his congregation, particularly during sick and shut-in visitations. He notes that these encounters, with individuals in their most vulnerable states, have been a source of encouragement to him as he sought to provide comfort and support.
Another powerful aspect of his journey has been the kindness of strangers. “Anglicans, and maybe other Christians, have come up to me as strangers and told me that they’ve been praying for me,” Deacon Saunders shares. “I believe that if more of us heard and knew that someone was praying for them, many more would feel better and do better. Truth be told, Jesus is praying for us and rooting for us continually. We just aren’t always mindful of that fact.”
For those contemplating a similar path to ministry, Deacon Saunders offers sage advice. “I would tell them to pray deeply about the decision and what it may mean for them,” he advises. “Speak to their Priest or Pastor or Bishop or Elder about their thoughts and possible convictions, and the passion they have. Ask them for mentorship, prayer, and guidance. Ask them the real and difficult questions about what changes they should expect in their lives should they take this path.”
Deacon Saunders emphasizes the importance of studying, reading sound biblical material, and staying informed about current news and issues in their faith tradition. He encourages aspiring ministers to seek guidance from faithful members besides ordained clergy, individuals who can provide encouragement, prayer, direction, and accountability.
He concludes by urging them those aspiring to enter ministry to begin living for Christ every day, without waiting for a formal position or title. “God’s work is exciting work,” he asserts. “While God will very well call people into immediate action many times, be prayerful and attentive to the voice and guiding of God the Holy Spirit.”
As Deacon Cameron Saunders prepares for his ordination as a priest, his journey stands as an inspiring testament to faith, family, and the transformative power of ministry.
Let us pray:
Dear Heavenly Father,
We humbly come before you today, lifting up Deacon Cameron Saunders and his wife, Vashti and their family, as they prepare for Cameron’s ordination to the sacred priesthood in our Diocese.
Bless Deacon with the strength, wisdom, and compassion needed for this holy calling. Grant Vashti the support and peace she needs as she walks alongside him in this journey. May your divine guidance be their constant companion, and may they be a source of inspiration and light to all they serve.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.