Walter Raymond - Chaplain, St Paul’s Anglican Church, Monaco

Walter Raymond recently took over as chaplain at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Monaco. He talked to Patrick Middleton

Walter Raymond was born and raised in Sacramento, the state capital of California. “As a boy I never thought I’d leave. I loved the weather, I loved the lifestyle. After college I moved to Canada and later realised I was eligible for the draft. Like a lot of my contemporaries I didn’t agree with the war so I stayed on in Canada. I’d had a great welcome. I liked the people and the country so it became my home.” Were his objections to the war faith-based? “To some extent, yes. I was raised a Roman Catholic and I attended mass most days until I was about 18 and then for some years I drifted away from the Church almost entirely. These were the Sixties, remember, and I got quite heavily into what they liked to call the alternative culture.”

I came to realise I had spiritual needs.

And then? “Living in Canada – first in Toronto – I came to realise I had spiritual needs and I gradually became active within the Anglican Church. To cut a long story short I was ordained in 1992, served in a parish and as a school chaplain; ten years ago I was made Dean of Quebec. But I wasn’t surrounded by canons and assistant clergy. It was just me.”

How did he take to Quebec, with its entrenched francophone culture and defensive stance towards the English-speaking world? “I’d say they are certainly very proud of their language, history and culture. Luckily I had already become bilingual; I loved Quebec City, a very beautiful town, and I was fascinated by the community which has become much more diverse with French-speaking incomers from Africa and Asia. Our congregation reflected that.” As a priest in Canada Walter Raymond became a member of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd. “It’s what we call a dispersed community and was founded in Cambridge in 1913. Put simply, it’s a worldwide group of Anglican men, mainly priests, who follow a simple rule and pray for each other daily as well as meeting regularly, usually on a regional basis. It’s a source of spiritual support and a great help.”

Why did he move to Monaco? “When I saw the job in Monaco advertised on the internet I decided the time might be right to make a move. I applied, was interviewed and eventually selected. I was attracted by a new challenge, the idea of working in another bilingual environment ... and by the weather. After a certain age those Quebec winters begin to wear you down.”

How does he find ministering to a congregation many of whom are rich? “Well, there’s nothing wrong in being rich. Broadly I’d say those who’ve already made their money are often decent, thoughtful, generous folks. I’d say it’s those who are still struggling to make their fortune that can sometimes have a hard edge. But the fact of their coming to church is encouraging. Our Lord would never have turned them away.”

A dimension which can’t be neglected

What does he hope to achieve at St Paul’s? “Let me say first that I’m in for the long haul. I’m no longer scanning ads online. I want the church to develop as an active social centre for local residents and that includes the younger people. Growing up in this kind of wealthy environment can be a difficult, even a perilous, experience. I’d like to help them come to terms with that. Again, wealth and worldly success are in no way bad in themselves but there is another dimension in life which can’t be neglected. A lot of rich men do get through the eye of the needle, you know, even if some of them need a little help to do so.” 


From Riviera Reporter Issue 131: Feb/March 2009

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