Farewell, Downtown Vancouver

My run of 22 years of working downtown Vancouver will end at the conclusion of February, as the JP II Pastoral Centre of the Archdiocese of Vancouver will move to its new location at 33rd and Willow in central Vancouver. As I will be out of town next week, for all intents and purposes this week is actually my last week downtown.

I worked at CIBC Mortgage Corporation (at the corner of West Hastings and Burrard) for the summers of 1993 and 1994. It was a great summer job for me as I got my initiation into working downtown and in a corporate environment. Needless to say, it was a far cry from serving as a busboy at La Pergola Italian Restaurant in Richmond.

During my third year of Commerce at UBC, I was hired by Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) in January 1995 and did a summer stint for them that year. The firm was located at the corner of Seymour and West Hastings. I enjoyed the “corporate culture” of Price Waterhouse despite my poor fashion taste. Hear my good friend Joyce tell the story of my fashion faux pas from my #Roadto40 Roast last summer (it starts at the 10:38 mark):

I started full time with the firm in September 1996 and I had big aspirations become a Chartered Accountant. However, as almost everyone in the world knows by now, I didn’t do so well in my professional accounting exams in 1998. The firm let go everyone who failed EXCEPT FOR ME. They moved me into Human Resources and specifically into recruiting. My time in HR helped me develop my leadership skills, my event management skills, my communication skills, and my public speaking skills.

For 2000 and the first half of 2001, I worked with a financial planner in Richmond. Being close to home and closer to St. Paul Parish helped me devote more time and energy to growing the parish youth ministry. After Sean was born in August 2001, I returned to the HR department of the now PricewaterhouseCoopers where I stayed until December 2002.

My first day on the job as the OYYAM Director in December 2002 (with Father - now Bishop - Mark Hagemoen)
My first day on the job as the OYYAM Director in December 2002 (with Father – now Bishop – Mark Hagemoen)

In December 2002, I started my current job as the Director of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office for the Archdiocese of Vancouver at the building affectionately referred to as “150 Robson”.   I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. We’ve seen some remarkable growth in both youth ministry and young adult ministry over the years and we’ve witnessed many young people moving on to accomplish some great things as youth ministers, teachers, doctors, business people, and more.

I’ve utilized a lot of the skills that I learned at PricewaterhouseCoopers, especially my public speaking and communication skills.  And despite my failed attempts to become a Chartered Accountant, I have a good enough understanding of the flow of money and the importance of smart budgeting!

As well, my time at PricewaterhouseCoopers helped me learn how to act as a professional.  This had proved invaluable in my dealings with priests, speakers and worship leaders, and of course archdiocesan management including my friend Archbishop Michael.

While I refer to my current job as a “dream job” it truly doesn’t feel like a job at all.  I love coming to work every day.  I love the challenge and the responsibility that comes with directing an archdiocesan office. Most of all, I get excited to think that we are helping youth and young adults encounter Christ to live out lives of personal and communal holiness. I thank God everyday for this opportunity and this responsibility.  May I never take it for granted.

I know I won’t be in this position forever.  Someday, someone much smarter and more capable will come along.  And if I ever get complacent or feel that the office is not moving forward, then I’ll know it’s my time to move on.  But I’m not there yet.

So aside from a brief 18-month stint in Richmond, I’ve been working downtown since 1993 – and full time since 1996. As you can imagine, I have a lot of fond memories of my time downtown and there are many things I’m going to miss about working here.

Over the next few days, I’ll be writing short reflections on certain aspects of my time downtown. I invite you to read along as I try to encapsulate just how special of a place it is…and how much I’m going to miss it. downtownvancouver

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