St. David’s on-the-Hill welcomed Father Edward Beaudreau to the parish this past fall after two years without a priest. Beaudreau said the position has been a great fit and is looking forward …
St. David’s on-the-Hill welcomed Father Edward Beaudreau to the parish this past fall after two years without a priest. Beaudreau said the position has been a great fit and is looking forward to seeing the church’s community grow.
St. David’s was established in 1914 when Hannah Clark, a Cranston mother of five children, decided to address the need for a local Sunday School. The first Sunday School session was held in her Cranston Street home where she taught 11 youths. The church describes itself as “an inclusive, open and affirming community that welcomes everyone, regardless of faith background.” Due to the increase in church membership over time, the church moved to 200 Meshanticut Valley Parkway in the 1950s and revised its name to St. David’s on-the-Hill.
Beaudreau is impressed by the dedicated parishioners who held the church together through the challenging times of Covid and not having a priest. He complimented Senior Warden Linda Guest, on keeping the place alive and well in the absence of a priest. A longtime member of the parish, she and the vestry (the church’s governing body) came together and were determined to make it through the challenges.
“It’s a solid group of people – a very faithful group of people,” said Beaudreau.
Beaudreau’s calling to the priesthood came in 2014. At the time, he was middle aged, married with two children and teaching AP government at Cumberland High School.
Following this new path, he started attending seminary school in a hybrid format. While most individuals who wanted to be a priest went into the seminary full-time, Beaudreau would take online classes and then travel to Nashotah House Theological Seminary, considered one of the more conservative seminaries in the Episcopal Church, during the summer for the in-person experience. For four years during summer vacation he would drive from Rhode Island to the seminary school in Wisconsin.
“I liked to drive out too because one of my interests is fishing.” Beaudreau said. “I could always bring fishing equipment as well and the seminary itself was on a lake so if you had some time in the evening you could relax between classes and services and do a little bit of fishing as well.”
After completing seminary school, Beaudreau was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 2018. His original intention was to be a priest and teacher at the same time. This past school year, his calling got deeper and he spoke with Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Church about making a full-time move to the priesthood.
The two spoke of pursuing a circuit rider ministry where a priest rotates between churches. Beaudreau said this type of ministry was common in the 19th century and is helpful today when there is a limited pool of priests and a vast number of parishes. Bishop Knisely mentioned that St. David’s on-the-Hill was looking for a priest and hadn’t had one in a few years and Beaudreau began the interview process.
In addition to being the priest at St. David’s on-the-Hill, Beaudreau is the priest of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Hope Valley and Church of the Holy Spirit in Charlestown.
Calling upon his inner history teacher, Beaudreau recently incorporated a centuries-old tradition at St. David’s on-the-Hill in order to celebrate the Epiphany – an event which remembers when Christ revealed himself to us and commemorates the Magi who followed the star that led to him. Known as chalking of the doors, people inscribe 20+C+M+B+23 on their doorpost of their home as a blessing. The letters stand for the Latin words Christus Mansionem Benedictat, which means “May Christ bless this house” while the numbers signify the current year. The letters also stand for the traditional names of the Magi who visited Jesus: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Beaudreau marked the church’s entrance way and provided chalk for parishioners to mark their own doors.
Looking at St. David’s on-the-Hill’s future, Beaudreau would like to see the parish continue on the path of growth since he believes the church has enormous potential. The church has also done quite a bit of work with the community in the past, including the operation of a feeding ministry and playing an active role in Church Beyond the Walls which meets every Saturday in Downtown Providence.
Beaudreau is also a new member of the Cranston Clergy Association which is a group of priests, ministers, deacons, rabbis and other clergy. Rabbi Jeff Goldwasser of Cranston’s Temple Sinai invited Beaudreau to the group and the two have since performed an ecumenical service. He said this is something he’d like to push moving forward.
“It's a case where there’s more things that the different churches, synagogues and faith communities can come together on because we have more in common than we have differences,” Beaudreau said.
Beaudreau’s favorite parts of being a priest are saying the Eucharist and services as well as interacting with people; he also feels blessed to be there for people in their time of need.
Beaudreau said the church is in a rebuilding phase. During Covid, many churches saw people transition to online worship and now the institutions are starting to bring people back in-person.
He said St. David’s on-the-Hill continues to post its services on Facebook and YouTube. He added that virtual options are a good way to reach parishioners who might not be able to get church in-person.
“The message of what we’re supposed to convey -- the good news, the gospel and so forth -- doesn't have to be limited to the people in your local parish,” Beaudreau said.
On the second Sunday of the month, Beaudreau provides a service of Holy Eucharist at 9 a.m. at St. David’s on-the-Hill and on the first, third and fourth Saturdays of the month he holds a 4 p.m. service. Beaudreau added that on the Sundays he isn’t there, lay people will lead a service of morning prayer.
Beaudreau grew up in Warwick and West Warwick and is a 1988 graduate of Bishop Hendricken. Following high school, he earned an undergraduate degree in history and master’s in education from Rhode Island College. Today, he continues to reside in West Warwick. He said it's a great blessing to serve the people of St. David’s on-the-Hill church
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