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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

Sometimes the rhythm of a week speaks for itself. Sometimes the events that take place from one day to the next reveal an underlying theme or narrative. It’s only by looking back that one can see it. And at once they are woven into the liturgical season.

On Sunday we visited Inspirations Studio on Church Street. It’s a favourite haunt of ours. This YWCA program provides a unique, low-barrier ceramics program for women and gender diverse people who have been marginalized. The pottery is exquisite, the stories are powerful and the enterprise is inspiring.

On Monday, we joined the Compass Rose Society’s lunch and learn Zoom call. Violette Mubarak, director of the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center, spoke about the work of the unit. Since 1964, the centre has treated thousands of Palestinian children with disabilities while hosting their mothers and empowering their families. They had just completed the construction of a clinic at the Al-Ahli hospital, which was destroyed in the war that persists. She spoke of the devastation of the war, the interruption of care and the wave of trauma that is surely yet to come. In the face of so much pain, her words were courageous and inspiring. We pray for peace in Israel and Palestine.

On Tuesday, we were swept up in the fervour of celebrating a Canadian sport icon. She played for 23 years and 331 international matches. She scored 190 goals, more than any other. At the tender age of 40, Christine Sinclair, number 12, was hanging up her cleats. At the end of the game, she and her teammates gathered in the centre of the field, arm in arm, and sang “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion. Not a dry eye in our house. She has done so much for the game of soccer, for women in sport, and has inspired and will continue to inspire generations to come.

On Wednesday, 14 beams of light projecting into the night sky atop Mount Royal in Montreal brought us back to a horrible moment on Dec. 6, 1989. A night when 14 young women were slain at Ecole Polytechnique, because they were women. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was birthed out of this senseless, brutal act of destruction and misogyny. The vigils held from coast to coast to coast touched the grief of the moment, but deeper still called us to commit ourselves to end gender-based violence in all its forms. We must each play our part. Every day.

As we step deeper into this season of Advent, it is the women in the narrative that come into clear focus and who provide inspiration and more for what is about to be. Elizabeth, Mary, the midwives and others who are not named. I am in awe of the courage, tenacity, chutzpah, innocence, hope, longing, faith and trust that they had in saying yes to God. Despite their circumstances, they said yes. Arm in arm, at centre field, they would sing their own version of… the power of love.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto