Skip To Content
From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

Last week I wrote to you about call and vocation in anticipation of Vocations Sunday, and specifically drew to your attention to the ministry of all the baptized and our current emphasis on the Church’s need for more priests and deacons. But today my thoughts are with a very distinct vocation: to the religious life.

On Sunday afternoon at St. James Cathedral, we will have a special service of Evensong in recognition and celebration of the Order of the Holy Cross. This will be a poignant gathering, as the OHC Brothers prepare to sell their priory in the west end of Toronto after almost 50 years. The prior, the Rev. Canon David Bryan Hoopes, will be moving back to the OHC Mother House in West Park, NY, while Brother Reginald Crenshaw and Brother Leonard Abbah will be moving to St. Hilda’s Towers. The Order of the Holy Cross was founded in 1884, but it’s had a presence in Canada since the 1890s, so we are grateful that Brother Brian Youngward, Brother Reg and Brother Leonard will continue to live here in our Diocese.

But the closing of the Toronto priory is a loss to all of us who visited and loved it, and of course to the community itself who called it home. Since 1975, the priory has been an oasis of prayer, spiritual direction and retreat, and offered to many of us pastoral care, quiet space, delicious meals, cozy guestrooms and a gracious verandah overlooking a lovingly tended garden. Their neighbours, including the hundreds of teenagers flooding past each morning to Humberside Collegiate, became well acquainted with the sight of the Brothers celebrating the Eucharist and praying the daily offices, clearly visible through the large bay windows that face onto High Park Avenue. Their community has offered a ministry of witness and worship, counsel and engagement, small group leadership, and some deeply appreciated Sunday coverage and interim ministry in our Diocese.

We remember with thanksgiving before God all of the Brothers who have lived in the priory and been a part of the life of the Diocese of Toronto: Brothers Lincoln Taylor; Harold Payne; Nicholas; David Khan; Robert Dean Keirsey; Brian McHugh; Damian Williams; William R.D. Turkington; Jay Launt; Paul Lauer; John Emerson; Glendon Romuald Brant; Jack Harbert; Ian Meadowcroft; James Robert Hagler; Boanerges Rosa Romaro; William Gatewood Sibley; Leonard Abbah; Richard Paul Vaggione; Thomas Fogah; Brian Youngward; Orlando Flores; Michael G. Stonebraker; Samuel B DeMerell, Genesis Samuel Odum; Christian Swayne; G.S. Odu; Lary Pearce; Cletus Saanibour; David Bryan Hoopes; Randall Greve; Bernard Delcourt; Reginald Martin Crenshaw; Adrian R. Gill. This list is likely missing some names, but we hope the Order knows how grateful we are for all of the Brothers and associates of the Order who have shared their gifts with us.

We take heart that the other residential religious community in the Diocese of Toronto – our other oasis of prayer and retreat, the convent of the Sisters of St. John the Divine – has begun an ambitious financial campaign to improve its facilities and ensure an ongoing presence in our midst for years to come. The “Home for the Heart” campaign is so close to its goal of $4 million, which includes the Diocese of Toronto’s gift of more than $600,000 – a demonstration of our investment in the Sisters’ ongoing presence in our midst. If you have enjoyed their hospitality and ministry at St. John’s Convent and wish to support the religious life, I invite you to make your own personal gift to the Sisters’ campaign. You can read more about it on their website.

Speaking of vocation, maybe you yourself have felt a gentle call to the religious life, making sacred vows to live out your baptismal promises in community. This is an increasingly rare vocation, but throughout Christian history God has called individuals to this way of living, and there may be people today who are exploring such a call. It’s worth praying about!

I’m looking forward to the service for the Order of the Holy Cross on Sunday, and I invite you to join us – in person, online or in prayer – in giving thanks for the ministry and witness of our Brothers.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto