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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow afternoon at St. Timothy, North Toronto, I will have the very great privilege of ordaining the Rev. Carol Shih as a priest. For Carol, her ordination will be the final step in a long journey – and the start of a wonderful new priestly ministry – that began in Hong Kong in 2019, when Bishop Patrick Yu, one of her professors at Ming Hua theological college, encouraged her to consider applying for postulancy in Toronto. We are so grateful!

The timing is especially appropriate, as the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario has named as a priority for this triennium the raising up of priestly vocations for the Church, and has named the Fourth Sunday of Easter, or Good Shepherd Sunday, as Vocations Sunday throughout the Province. Our Metropolitan, Archbishop Anne Germond, has written a pastoral letter about it, and I encourage you to read it here.

“All baptized people are called to make Christ known as Saviour and Lord, and to share in the renewing of the world,” (BAS 646) our rite for ordination says. “Every Christian is called to follow Jesus Christ, serving God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (BAS 655) Most baptized Christians live out their vocations as faithful lay people, growing daily in discipleship as followers of Jesus, and proclaiming Christ’s life, death and resurrection in their work and witness in the world. The Diocese of Toronto has just commenced a Season of Spiritual Renewal to invite the Holy Spirit to enflame us all with courage, conviction and joy as we live out our baptismal promises in ministry every single day. (The Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Paulsen and the Steering Committee are working hard to get resources out to the Diocese very soon!)

But for some, God calls individuals to a distinct ministry through ordination, either as a deacon or a priest. And all of us who are members of the Church can play a part in helping to identify and encourage those among us who display particular gifts for ordained ministry. Sometimes it takes a nudge! It did for me. I was halfway through my undergraduate degree when I realized I wasn’t in the right place. I enjoyed my science studies, but I wasn’t passionate about them. And then I had an inkling that God might be calling me. The inkling became more when friends and family who knew me well began to ask, have you ever thought of the priesthood? While it is imperative that an individual personally feels the Holy Spirit’s direction, it is the support and affirmation of the whole Church that guides a person to their true calling. Like Bishop Yu’s gentle suggestion to Carol, all of us can identify, encourage, and affirm others in their vocation. As you look around your parish family (or maybe even your own family), who stands out to you as a potential priest or deacon? Who exhibits a love of God and neighbour in such a way that causes you to suggest to that person, “Have you ever considered ordination? I think you should…”

I invite you to pray the Vocations Prayer, together with the whole Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, this weekend:

God our hope, your risen Christ commissioned leaders to make disciples of all nations and baptize them to serve as a living testimony to his presence. Raise up in this Province vocations to holy orders, individuals who will love you with their whole hearts and gladly spend their lives making you known; quicken wisdom in those charged with ministries of discernment or mentorship; and equip theological schools and faith communities in which vocations are encouraged and incubated, so your Church, devoting itself to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers, may live as a faithful sign and instrument of your Reign, drawing the world to the One who is Lamb, Gate, and Shepherd, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

May God bless you in your own vocation and ministry.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto