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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

It is a beautiful morning here in lovely Niagara Falls, Ontario, where I have been staying this week with bishops from across the Anglican Church of Canada. This gathering is an annual event of the House of Bishops that takes place every year, early in the Easter season, at the Mount Carmel Retreat Centre on the north shore of the Niagara River, just above the falls themselves. It is a time of worship, prayer, collegiality and renewal. I am so grateful for it.

When my beloved father died on Easter weekend, and I found myself hurriedly rearranging my schedule for this “in-between” time leading up to his funeral on Monday, I think some were surprised that I decided to keep my plans to attend the House of Bishops. “I think that will be good for me,” was my response. And it has been. To be among friends in a time of grief, to be supported in prayer and to gather in the same room that my father would have gathered in when he was in the House, was deeply consoling. What a tonic. A community is everything.

This week, the House of Bishops has celebrated those bishops who are starting something new, like Archbishop Chris Harper, who moves from being the bishop of the Diocese of Saskatoon to being our new National Indigenous Bishop. I have joined in honouring and thanking those bishops who are laying something down, like Bishop Michael Oulton, who is resigning as Bishop of Ontario, Bishop Michael Hawkins, retiring as Bishop of Saskatchewan, or Bishop Philip Poole, who is resigning his role as chaplain to our House. And we bishops have told our stories with each other, from across the whole national Church, sharing what it means to be a Canadian Anglican today, from coast to coast to coast, with all the many joys and challenges we have experienced, especially over the past three years of pandemic. In all of this, I have been inspired by the leadership of our Primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls. Always, but this week especially, I have been hugely supported by the pastoral care of our Metropolitan, Archbishop Anne Germond. And I have been deeply moved by the friendship and concern of all my sibling bishops.

Next week, it will be my joy to join the five individuals who will be on their pre-ordination retreat at Loretto Maryholme in Roche’s Point. Abraham, Carol, Doug, Hannah and Paige, I can’t wait to spend some time with you, reflecting on the ordination vows you will take on Sunday, April 30 at St. James Cathedral, as you start your life of ordained ministry. I hope that the community we build on retreat together will be one of support, mutual care and inspiration as we share our stories and build a common life together, as colleagues in ministry for decades to come.

I know so well that it is the small groups that we build in our Church – bible studies, Sunday School classes, deanery clericus meetings, Momentum and Fresh Start gatherings, youth groups, choirs, altar guilds, ACWs… there are so many! – that are the cell communities that make up the Body of Christ.

Christ himself gathered small groups during his own earthly ministry, creating community wherever he went. Please take a moment to reflect on those small groups where you are nourished and nurtured in your faith and ministry, and give thanks to God today for them. Think about how you can support your fellow Christians in their journeys of faith and contribute to the building up of the whole.

As always, I am grateful to God for this Diocese of Toronto, and our own community of faith, as we seek to live and grow together into the fullness of our baptismal ministry and life in Christ.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto


P.S. Some have asked about prayer resources for the upcoming coronation on May 6 of Canada’s new head of state, King Charles III. I commend to you the resources on the Church of England website, and I give permission for these to be adapted and used throughout the Diocese as desired.