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Hundreds turn out for consecration of new bishop — new photos

The Venerable Peter Fenty, preceded by his wife Angela, walks to the cathedral before his consecration. Photos by Michael Hudson

By Stuart Mann

Valerie Davis of St. Hugh and St. Edmund, Malton, was standing in line outside St. James Cathedral in Toronto at 7:30 a.m. today—a full three hours before the start of Bishop Peter Fenty’s consecration service.

Ms. Davis was one of hundreds of people who arrived early to get a seat for one of the most anticipated services of the year. Before the doors of the church opened at 9 a.m., the lineup stretched half-way down the block.

“We just wanted to be part of this day,” said Ms. Davis, who came with her friend, Marjorie Taylor of Christ Church, Brampton. “It’s so monumental.”

Ms. Davis said Bishop Fenty’s election on April 6 and consecration on June 22 has created excitement in Barbados, where he was born and raised. “My family in Barbados is going nuts and the island is going crazy. Everyone is so excited.”

About 50 people flew up from Barbados and the United States for the service, and others came from the Diocese of Montreal, where Bishop Fenty served as a parish priest before coming to the Diocese of Toronto. The Barbadian High Commissioner to Canada and his wife also attended.

More than 800 people take part in the service in the cathedral, with another 250 in Snell Hall.

When the service started at 10:30 a.m., the cathedral was full with about 800 people, with another 250 in nearby Snell Hall and some listening to the service on the church lawn.

Several bishops and clergy from the Caribbean took part in the service, including Archbishop John Holder, who is the Bishop of Barbados and Primate of the West Indies. “Go forth to plant and water, but never forget that God, and God alone, gives the growth,” he told Bishop Fenty during his sermon.

During the service, Archbishop Colin Johnson and the other bishops laid their hands on Bishop Fenty’s head, praying to God to “send down your Holy Spirit upon your servant Peter, whom we consecrate in your name to the office and work of a bishop in the church.”

Bishops lay hands of the head of Bishop Fenty.

In a delightful moment, liturgical dancers then presented Bishop Fenty with his new chasuble, mitre and crosier. The suffragan bishops of the Diocese of Toronto presented him with his pectoral cross and episcopal ring.

After placing the mitre on Bishop Fenty’s head and giving him his pastoral staff, Archbishop Johnson presented Bishop Fenty to the congregation. The crowd gave him a long, loud round of applause, and some cheered.

“It was really beautiful,” said Denise Mederick, who watched a webcast of the service in nearby Snell Hall. “I was so moved. I loved how all the bishops were there and gathered around him. It was an honour to be here.”

Bishop Fenty is presented to the congregation, accompanied by his wife Angela and Archbishop Colin Johnson.

Ms. Mederick, who knew Bishop Fenty when he was the incumbent of St. Joseph of Nazareth in Brampton, came with her mother, sister, daughter and others from St. Joseph’s. “He’s going to be a fantastic bishop,” she said.

One of the high points of the service for her was seeing him in his mitre and chasuble. “I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know what to call him now. For me, he’ll always be Father Peter.”

The Rev. Canon Stephen Fields, the incumbent of Holy Trinity, Thornhill, said he was “overwhelmed” by the occasion. Bishop Fenty had been his parish priest in Barbados in 1977, and they have been close friends ever since.

“Personally, this is fulfilling,” said Canon Fields. “I think the church here has made a very important statement: that we affirm all peoples; whatever your background or culture, we are church.”

In a sign of their affection for Bishop Fenty, many people waited for up to an hour after the service to greet him.

Bishop Fenty greets friends.

“This is a very special day, not only called to be a bishop of the church but to be surrounded by the love, prayers and support of my family and the many, many faithful people of God in this diocese,” said Bishop Fenty. “I look forward to this new ministry with joy and great expectation, and by the grace of God I will seek to be a faithful pastor to those whom God has entrusted to my care.”

Bishop Fenty is now the area bishop of York-Simcoe, one of four episcopal areas of the diocese. He said he plans to get started right away. “I am hitting the road and running as we speak,” he said. “I ask for the prayers and continued support of the church in general, but I also want the clergy and people of York-Simcoe to know that they’re in my prayers and I’m looking forward to serving them in the days and years ahead.”

A video of the service has been posted on the diocese’s YouTube channel.