Rev. Graham McCaffrey is St. Dunstan of Canterbury Anglican Church’s new leader. He envisions the church continuing to grow and be a strong member of the Centennial community. Photo credit Kathy McGrath

By Zinta Erdmanis

The Reverend Graham McCaffrey is living proof of the idiom “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” St. Dunstan of Canterbury Anglican Church on Lawson Road recently welcomed him as the new incumbent so I set out to find out about the new leader.

Graham, as he likes to be referred to, is a husband and a father. His wife, Bethany, has been the minister at nearby Melville Presbyterian Church in Scarborough for the last nine years. They met at seminary, fell in love, married and have three children. A wonderful, but somewhat predictable life. However, when you dig a little deeper, it becomes very clear that Graham’s life was and continues to be anything but.

The son of a Canadian diplomat, Graham was born in Toronto. He and his sister were the first set of twins born at the new Women’s College Hospital. He spent his childhood and teen years living all over the world: Cairo, Egypt; Athens, Greece; Sri Lanka; Paris, France; Buffalo, New York; and finally, Moscow, Russia.

When asked which was his favourite, Sri Lanka was the immediate reply. “The most beautiful country in the world,” he declared. His family was there during the devastating tsunami of 2004 and learned through first-hand experience how wonderful the people were, even during that difficult time.

Throughout this period, his parents and two sisters were active in the Anglican church no matter where they were stationed. Even now, the McCaffrey family gives much of themselves to others. Graham’s twin sister works for UNICEF and is currently in Panama helping those less fortunate. His older sister worked for a number of refugee agencies in Africa and the Middle East, and she is currently with the Canadian Federal Human Rights Commission.

Like many teenagers, Graham grew apart from his faith. He had no intention of committing his life to the church and began his studies at the University of Toronto Trinity College, focusing on history. During a summer break from school he travelled to Syria where he had a powerful personal experience in Damascus at the chapel commemorating St. Paul getting his sight back. This epiphany led Graham to refocus his education on religious studies.

After completing his studies, Graham’s first position was in 2014 at Grace Church in Scarborough as their junior priest and within a year was elevated to senior priest. He was welcomed to St. Dunstan of Canterbury this August.

At home in West Hill, Graham and his wife Bethany have a full house. They are the proud parents of two daughters and a son. Additionally, they are foster parents for the Catholic Children’s Aid Society and currently have two foster children under their roof.

When asked about his vision for St. Dunstan, Graham sees “the church’s role to be out in the community,” be it collaborating with local organizations such as the CCRA or other churches in the area. He envisions St. Dunstan will continue to grow and be a strong member of the Centennial community. “I always wanted the church to be looking out of its walls, reaching out of its walls,” he said.

Graham wants his congregation and those in our community to “feel empowered to share the gifts they have” with each other.

Graham also brings the gift of a beautiful singing voice for his parishioners to enjoy every Sunday. Centennial residents can look forward to hearing it if they attend the popular Community Carol Sing at St. Dunstan’s on Sunday, December 11 at 6 p.m.