“The overall impact Providence had on me is difficult to measure. One thing is for certain: God has used Providence to teach, shape, prepare and lead me, and for that I am grateful.”
Although Reverend Joey Royal’s love for God’s Word ran deep, he never thought it would lead him anywhere mission-oriented. Growing up in his church, he remembers missionaries visiting to talk about their work and recalls thinking, “Well that’s the last thing in the world I’d want to do!” Little did he know the plans God had for him and how it would later lead him to train ministers in northern Canada.
Asked why he chose Providence, Joey smiles and answers, “a girl!” Although his initial plan to attend Providence was because of that relationship, Joey later noticed a stirring began to take place in his heart. “I was excited about the Bible and theology,” he says. “Providence had a warm, pastoral environment…I felt like there was a community behind me. People were supported and treated with kindness.”
Because of these relationships, he felt more equipped to go deeper in his education. “Providence developed a rich, intellectual mindset in me that prepared me for the larger university I later attended to finish my degree,” he says. Joey graduated Providence with a Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology in 2003. He later pursued his Masters of Divinity at Providence and completed it at another university.
Once he received his Master’s, Joey was ordained as an Anglican priest and joined the Diocese Education Committee, which is part of the Diocese of the Arctic. “One of our mandates,” Joey explains, “was to reopen a theological college (also called Arthur Training School) in Iqaluit. It had once trained Indigenous priests, bishops and deacons but closed due to the weather taking tolls on the buildings.”
There are approximately 50 churches in the Diocese of the Arctic and, according to Joey, “There are a shortage of ministers from these areas for those churches.” So Joey, along with his wife and son, decided to move to Iqaluit to reopen the school.
He is currently teaching his second year of a two-year program to five students who could potentially become five new ministers in the community.
A positive, vibrant tone can be heard in Joey’s voice when speaking about Iqaluit. Even though he may not have expected to be working in this field or community, he enjoys where he lives. Describing Iqaluit, he says: “It is not a closed group. People are very open and you can easily make friends, unlike in other areas I have lived.”
Joey has found a home, a calling and a purpose in his vocation and expresses his gratitude to Providence for guiding him in this direction.
“I wouldn’t trade my Providence experience for anything,” he says. He adds that he would tell any student considering their future that if their goal is to be “intellectually formed and spiritually nurtured,” then “Providence would be a really great choice!”
(Top to bottom: Joey Royal – centre – with students at his church in Iqaluit; one of the 50 Diocese of the Arctic churches.)