Student Spotlight: Darcy Gillis

in Students

1. Tell us briefly about where you are from.
I was born in Three Mile Plains, Nova Scotia and spent my childhood there before moving to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I lived there until my early twenties, when I moved to Fredericton to attend university. I now live in Halifax with my husband, Roger, and our dog and cat. 


2. What was your educational and work background prior to studying at ADC?

I worked on my undergraduate studies in Halifax – beginning with the Foundation Year Programme at the University of Kings College, and then finishing a Bachelor or Arts in History, with a double minor in English and Religious Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University. After being introduced to the late Dr. H. Miriam Ross, who was a missionary in the Congo/Zaire and the first female professor at ADC, I decided to attend UNB Fredericton to do a History masters thesis on Hannah Maria Norris Armstrong, who was the founder of the ABW in the late nineteenth century. In my final year of finishing my thesis, I returned to Halifax and began working as a counsellor in an agency that supports home living for people with intellectual disabilities. I have been working full time with that agency for the past seven years, and it was through this work that I realized my passion for working with people, as well as ideas.

3. What are you currently studying at ADC and how did you come to be here?

I thought that my current work could be a possible long-term career for me, but became restless a couple years ago. It was through a lot of prayer and searching that I finally felt a call to pursue Spiritual Care as a career. Having Baptist roots and knowing several people associated with ADC, I decided to enroll in a J-term course called Introduction to Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care. Although I still had doubts regarding my call, finances, and time, I really enjoyed the class and decided to continue on in my studies one course at a time. By the next school year, much came together and I enrolled full-time in the Masters of Divinity degree with a specialization in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care. Part of this program includes two units of Clinical Pastoral Education, which I am doing through Capital Health. My first placement was at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, and my current placement is at the Abbie Lane Mental Health Hospital. These placements have been challenging, but overall they have been very rewarding and the lessons I am learning are applicable across all aspects of my life and faith.

4. What impact has ADC had on your spiritual and professional life?

As a student based in Halifax, I unfortunately do not get to spend as much time on campus as I would like. However the time I do spend at ADC is always very rewarding and inspiring. Being given the opportunity to learn about God in an academic setting has been a real blessing to my faith, especially after spending so many years in a secular university. Since my degree focuses more on practical theology, I have found that much of what I am learning directly affects my ability to connect with others in my current workplace, clinical placement, and my relationships in general. My favorite verse is Matthew 22:37, and I find that my time at ADC has helped me to explore further and practice what it means to love God with my all, and to love others as I learn to also love myself. 

5. Some people reading this are perhaps discerning a call to ministry and considering ADC. What advice would you give them?

My advice for those discerning a call to ministry and/or study at ADC is to pray. It was through prayer that I was willing to accept my call to pursue a career in spiritual care, and it was through prayer that I felt God say to me to take it one step at a time. I believe prayer has also played a major role in my having just what I need, when I need it, as I pursue this call. We are all called to ministry and to continue to learn and grow in our faith.  Regardless of the plans that God has for me, my experience in gaining a deeper understanding of God through my studies at ADC has been invaluable. I always try to remember that all things will work together for good if I love God and try to walk with purpose. If you are unsure, try a class out in something you are really passionate about, continue to pray, and be open to where the Spirit is leading you to live a life of God’s purpose.

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