By Stuart Mann
Bishop Patrick Yu’s speech was entitled “My greatest disappointments in life,” but the Bishop’s Company Regional Dinner, held in York-Scarborough on Nov. 10, surely couldn’t have been one of them.
The dinner, held at a large Chinese restaurant in Markham, was a joyous affair as about 150 people from parishes across York-Scarborough and further afield gathered to enjoy each other’s company, savour delicious food and celebrate the ministry of Bishop Yu, who is retiring as area bishop in mid-January after 10 years on the job.
“This is fantastic and I’m very honoured,” he said as the evening drew to a close.
The location – the Dragon Legend restaurant – was an inspired choice. Diners sat together at long tables, creating a friendly, family atmosphere. The closing hymn – “Let all things now living, a song of thanksgiving” – carried throughout the busy restaurant, proving once again that Anglicans not only like to have a good time but can really sing.
“I thought tonight was delightful, having an opportunity to sit at tables family-style,” said Archbishop Colin Johnson. “That signifies something about the life of the diocese. You have people from all sorts of regions of the world gathered here to celebrate ministry.”
York-Scarborough, consisting of 55 parishes and three diocesan ministries, is located in the eastern half of the City of Toronto and is one of the most multicultural places in the Canadian church. The dinner not only reflected its diversity but celebrated it.
In keeping with the family atmosphere, Bishop Yu was joined by his wife Kathy and daughter Christina. They both received applause for their support and contributions to the diocese over the years. (The Yus’ other children, Joseph and Theresa, were unable to attend.)
In his speech, Bishop Yu spoke about the “disappointments” in his life that had turned out to be blessings due to the grace of God. One of those moments was when he was elected bishop in 2006. “I came into the episcopate with fear and trembling, but being bishop has been 10 of the most fulfilling years of my life,” he said.
He spoke about a time many years ago when, unable to land an incumbency at a city church, he drove “miles and miles” into the country to take up the incumbency of the parish of Coldwater-Medonte. It turned out to be one of the happiest postings of his life.
“We had some of the most wonderful times there – seven years – and I had to fight Bishop [Arthur] Brown to stay there,” he said.
He and Kathy liked it so much that they bought burial plots there, and he showed a picture of himself stretched out on the grass in the cemetery to prove it, bringing much laughter from the crowd.
“You know that book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten? Well, everything I need to know about parish ministry I learned in Coldwater-Medonte. And these are some of the things I’ve learned: God is everywhere, grace is everywhere, and look beyond first impressions, as there is a very beautiful spiritual side.”
In summing up, he reflected on the 25th chapter of Genesis, in which Joseph tells his brothers not to feel distressed or angry for selling him into slavery because “it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Bishop Yu said: “I believe that verse is the heart of the Gospel – ‘but God.’ And if you hold on to that, I think you will turn disappointments into blessings.”
Afterwards, Archbishop Johnson said Bishop Yu was a gift to the diocese. “He has been creative and innovative, and he is willing to take risks,” he said. “Patrick will create something new and then ask, ‘What are we learning from this?’ That stepping back and asking how can we do it better has really helped the diocese significantly. He’s a born teacher.”
In addition to celebrating Bishop Yu’s ministry, the dinner raised funds to help the Bishop of Toronto provide emergency relief to clergy in need, as well as supporting initiatives and projects that are not covered by the diocese’s operating budget. The dinner’s benefactor was Caldwell Investment Management.