Rev. Ann Bush, Rector of the Anglican parishes of St. James in Port Hill, St. John’s in Ellerslie and St. Peter’s in Foxley River, believes she has a God-given gift to remember names.
Although she does not profess to have a particularly strong memory, Bush said she acquired the gift when she started work in prison ministry in England.
“I’d always hold my hand out and shake their hand and say, ‘What is your name?’” Instinctively, the prisoners would answer with their last name because that’s how they were addressed. She’d persist and get their first name.
“That name would never leave my mind.” She believes that had a positive impact on the prisoners she encountered.
When people questioned why she’d work in a prison environment, Bush said she’d respond, ‘I see God’s hand working every day in the jail. Do you see that where you’re working?’
Bush’s life journey is the focus of her recently-published book, ‘Whispers - Follow One Girl’s Journey with Christ from Wilderness to Wholeness.’
For the book, the author goes by her middle name, and even that is a story. She was to be named Catherine Ann, but a mistake was made when her birth was registered, and she became Ann Kathleen.
“Very positive,” said Bush of the response to the book since a soft launch at St. James rectory. “Many people have told me they’ve read it twice through, which is very pleasing to hear.”
The official book launch takes place this Tuesday, Jan. 23, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Summerside Library.
She said her husband urged her to write her story, to inspire other people.
“So this is a book, not written for me; it’s written, hopefully, for fellow travellers in this world.”
She’d been thinking about Whispers since arriving in the P.E.I. parish and, once she got started, it took her two years to complete. “I love fashioning words into something. I think they’re beautiful. They can carry such power for healing.”
Bush’s journey takes her through three continents. She was born in South Africa and moved with her family to Kenya when she was three. She moved alone to England when she was 17 and embarked on a career in aviation.
Gordon Bush soon entered her life, following a chance meeting in an elevator – they both served in Heathrow’s Air Traffic Control Tower – and they married six months later.
Having been born into a family that had no faith, Bush says Whispers is about finding faith.
“As a little girl, I sensed a nudging towards going to church,” she said. “By the time I got to 12, and this is where the book starts, really, I had this growing sense that I needed to get inside a church, because that was where I was going to find God.”
She walked a mile and entered the packed cathedral in Nairobi where she knew no one and simply stood, or sat, when everyone else did so.
Despite being punished for having left home on her own, she went back the following Sunday.
“One of the ministers comes to speak to me, and it’s maybe what some people would say was a prophesy. He told me that he had a sense that God would have a special purpose for me in my life, that God had wanted me to come to this place to get this message from him.”
Although she attended smaller churches occasionally in her early teens, it wasn’t until she made friends in high school with a girl whose family was devoutly Christian, that her spiritual journey accelerated. She was able to get her questions answered by her friend’s mother.
“That was a very important piece of what God needed me to learn for later,” Bush testifies, acknowledging she encounters in her ministry people at various stages of their faith journey. “I’ve never forgotten that ‘new’ feeling; it’s with me all the time. That’s my greatest wish in ministry, to pass that on.”
The Bushes immigrated to Canada in 2001, when Ann became the Anglican Rector in Fort Smith, NWT and Gordon took a job as operations manager with the airline there. He subsequently got promoted to general manager and, in 2011 was ordained a deacon.
They retired to P.E.I. in 2012, but retirement lasted mere months. Both have remained active in ministry.