Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Posted on October 2, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

Don’t ever underestimate the power of the company you keep!

It was a Tuesday night about seven years ago. My phone display showed that I had missed three calls from my older brother. Why would my brother be calling me? He and his wife were on a river cruise in Europe to mark their wedding anniversary. I tried calling him again and again and again…. No answer! And then he called me.

Many of us have had one of those terrible, terrible calls, and this was one of them. You could hear the dread in his voice. There was a jumble of words, of emotion. The information came too fast for me to fully comprehend, something about… a fall. His wife had had a bad fall on the ship. Something about the ship being stopped mid-river, about being rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. With each bit of information, all I could muster was, What? How? Where are you? Where on earth is Linz, Austria?

In a moment like this, all you can think about is trying to get there, to drop everything and go! In a moment like this, you turn to family, to community and to your Bishop! Archbishop Colin asked me, What do you need? I need time and financial assistance to get me to Linz to be with my brother… Done!

Bishop Patrick Yu called. Are you driving? he asked. No, I said. May I pray with you? he asked. Please, I said.

With prayer, and with funds raised by the company that you keep – that is, the Bishop’s Company – off I went to Linz.

For nearly 60 years, the Bishop’s Company has been offering emergency financial assistance for clergy and their families in need, support for medical and counselling services, scholarships for theological students and much more. As a recipient of this support, I know first-hand how critical it is for our bishops to offer tangible help in a moment of crisis and want. Each year, the Bishop’s Company hosts a dinner to raise funds for this important work. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are moving the event online.

On Friday Oct. 16, the Bishop’s Company will debut its inaugural Cabaret – an evening of inspiration and music. In addition to 12 performances, a keynote address will be made by Archbishop Linda Nicholls and a testimonial will be given by the Rev. Canon Nicola Skinner. Admission to the event is free, though we invite you to make a donation for the benefit of our front-line workers in faith. The need for your support is even greater now, during this global pandemic.

We have set an ambitious goal of securing at least 1,000 registrations for the Cabaret. Invite your friends, your parish, your community. Join us for an evening of entertainment, music, fun, word and gratitude. For more information, visit the Bishop’s Company website. See registration link here.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of the company you keep. You help to keep the Bishop’s Company, a vessel of hope and support, of consolation and presence. I look forward to seeing you on Oct. 16!

Yours in Christ
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto

P.S.

Six years ago, when I shared my testimonial at the Bishop’s Company dinner, I gave the last word to my brother. I asked him, if you had the opportunity to speak, what would you say?

“I would be the last person to think that something could happen to us – even more so, several thousand miles away in Linz, Austria on our anniversary cruise!” he replied. “Away from home, family and friends, contemplating life hanging by a thread. The time with Andrew brought peace, some fun and hope in a time of need. The Bishop’s Company enabled that moment in time, and we are forever grateful.”

That evening, he made a $500 donation and challenged those of us who are able to match his gift, and to help someone’s future in a time of need.