Drainville seeks to unite Quebec and Montreal dioceses

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Bishop Dennis Drainville, who was elected bishop of Quebec in 2007, believes that the time has come for the two dioceses to join together. Photo: General Synod Archives
Bishop Dennis Drainville, who was elected bishop of Quebec in 2007, believes that the time has come for the two dioceses to join together. Photo: General Synod Archives

The bishop of one of two dioceses that account for the majority of the Anglicans in Quebec is seeking election as bishop of the other diocese as well, because “now would be an opportune time to unite the two dioceses.”

Bishop Dennis Drainville, who for eight years has been bishop of the diocese of Quebec (with its cathedral in Quebec City), disclosed in a posting on the diocesan website on May 14 that he is a candidate to succeed Bishop Barry Clarke. Clarke will retire in late August, after 10 years as bishop of the geographically smaller but more populous diocese of Montreal.

The diocese of Quebec, founded in 1793, covers about 720,000 square kilometres and has about 3,000 Anglicans on parish rolls. The diocese of Montreal, founded in 1850 in part of the diocese of Quebec, covers about 21,370 square kilometres and has almost 11,000 on parish rolls.

In his posting, Drainville says that over the course of two weeks, he had been approached by some people in the diocese of Montreal to stand for nomination to become the next bishop of Montreal.

An electoral synod to choose a bishop-elect for the diocese of Montreal is set for June 6, and the deadline for submitting advance nominations was May 14. The list of nominees will be made public by May 21. It is understood that several people are seeking the position.

Drainville says the “financial house” of the diocese of Quebec “is now pretty well in order,-” but “we still face the fact that we will never have the critical mass of members that we need to ensure our future mission.”

He went on to note: “I spent four years speaking about the possibilities of such a merger with people in Montreal. I believe there is some interest in that possibility,” and he explained that “it is for this reason that I am prepared to offer myself as a candidate…Whatever happens, we of the household of faith believe that the Spirit will decide. I am content to see whatever follows.”

Drainville’s posting also includes an essay he submitted to the diocese of Montreal, as candidates were requested to do, on his vision for his episcopacy.

He says his vision includes:

? Greater emphasis upon lay training and leadership.

? Greater imagination in the ways in which we speak of Christ and act in the world as his agent.

? Developing more francophone churches and responding better to the integration of immigrants.

? Restructuring the institution.

This last priority “recognizes that the diocesan and parish structures need to be redesigned to serve a smaller community in a very different social context.”

He wrote: “This vision has sustained my episcopal ministry in Quebec. We have restructured our administration and ministries, enhanced support for francophone communities, renewed and strengthened ecumenical partnerships, expanded work with young people and responded to the Crisis of Creation by increasingly becoming a ‘Green Church.’ ”

Drainville also referenced his ability as a financial manager, adding that under his tenure, “We have also brought order and stability to our financial affairs by balancing the budget.”

The bishop closed by arguing that “by building upon the strengths of our two dioceses we will be better equipped to evangelize, to care for the people in our communities and our province, and to contribute to solutions for a sustainable future of all of God’s creation.”

Harvey Shepherd is editor of Anglican Montreal, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Montreal.

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