From Bishop Marc: An important update on Canon Stefani

 
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen 
 BCP, page 832.

 
Dear diocesan family,
 
I’m sharing by way of this letter, and with Canon Stefani’s input and blessing, an update on her health and how we’re responding at this point in time for diocesan ministry. Some of the information in this letter may be a recap of the helpful updates that Stefani and Joe Duggan, Stefani’s husband, regularly provide via the Caring Bridge website; however, we are concerned that the diocese have timely information about Stefani’s current health and how we plan to address diocesan staffing needs in the short-term.
 
Joe Duggan, Stefani’s husband, has characterized Stefani’s medical care to date as being in three phases: phase 1 in Glasgow, Scotland, when Stefani was diagnosed about a year ago with ovarian cancer; phase 2 in San Francisco, where Stefani has been receiving care from an outstanding team of doctors since her return from Scotland; and phase 3, now beginning, with consultation directed at Stefani’s particular kind of cancer. Each of these phases has given Stefani critical and life-saving care.
 
As Stefani has made the journey from diagnosis to pre-operation chemotherapy to surgery and post-surgical recovery, the highest priority that Stefani and I have held at all times has been for her health. She is a remarkable colleague, full of energy, wisdom, and a great love of our diocese. With approval from her doctors, Stefani has stayed engaged in the life of the diocese­­­ — and even returned to work part-time following a strong recovery from her surgery in January. 
 
We’ve been fortunate for the superb ministry of the Rev. Eric Metoyer, who stepped in at my request in August 2016 to do a significant part of the work of the Canon to the Ordinary. Eric has worked in close partnership with Stefani, and together they planned a sharing of duties while she continued her post-operative recovery and I was due to be out of the office on my sabbatical. Similarly, Stefani and I are grateful for the capacious, dedicated, and passionate ministry of our whole diocesan staff, who have worked together so beautifully during the time of Stefani’s illness. This has been a year of an unfolding of the Beloved Community for our diocesan staff —
holding in tandem our hopes for the diocese and Stefani, and trusting in God to guide life-giving decisions relative to work and health.
 
All of our plans were subject to change at any point in time, pending changes to Stefani’s health. And, as Stefani so lovingly shared via Caring Bridge, she learned the week before Easter that there was a new abdominal tumor, and, in turn, a new chemotherapy regime was initiated. 
 
Because of Stefani’s reactions to the new chemotherapy and the effects of the tumor and the cancer in general, we both further curtailed her work while I was away through May 1, after which time I had planned on working at least one day a week during my sabbatical.
 
On Thursday, May 11, Sheila and I visited Joe and Stefani at their home in Alameda, wherein we were able to talk deeply and pray together. We all recognized the truth of this moment — Stefani must give all her attention and energy to the healing process. A part of this truth is that she is unable to work for now.
 
There are some excellent medical consultations and possible treatment paths that have been identified, and Stefani and Joe need the time and space to be able to pursue them. We agreed that, as of May 12, Stefani will go on full leave from her work as Canon to the Ordinary. I am, of course, stopping my sabbatical and returning to my diocesan ministry full time. Eric will continue in his role as Canon to the Ordinary, pro tempore.
 
Work, especially work in the Church and work on my staff, is deeply meaningful for Stefani, and she has blessed our diocese with her many gifts. Stefani was very eager to get back to her active ministry as soon after the January surgery as she possibly could. It has been understandably difficult for Stefani to make the decision to take a full leave of absence at this time, but with her I believe it is the best­­ — indeed the only — possible decision at this point.
 
Please continue your prayers for Stefani and Joe. This is a difficult, shadowy moment for them and for all of us who love them. Sheila and I join with them in trust of God’s loving presence in our lives, and we pray for Stefani’s healing, for her family, and for her health care providers, knowing that she is at all times in God’s compassionate, loving embrace. 


Faithfully,
+MHA