Bishop Bruce Howe
The diocese of Huron has announced that its bishop, Bruce Howe, will retire effective Sept. 1.
“We write to you this day with some news which will be surprising to most, but news that is in fact good for someone who is loved by us all. We are announcing today the retirement of the Right Reverend Bruce Howe as Bishop of the Diocese of Huron as of the first of September,” said a letter addressed to the clergy and people of Huron, which was read in congregations across the diocese on Sunday morning, June 29. “For 40 years Bishop Bruce has served the church that he loves and cherishes, and he has had a ministry that has always been full speed ahead. This style of care and devotion takes a toll emotionally, spiritually and physically and while the decision may seem sudden, Bishop Bruce has made the best decision for his well being and that of his family.”
The letter, signed by the diocesan executive staff, said Bishop Howe is currently on a planned sabbatical leave. “…Bishop Bruce needs some space to allow him time for reflection on all of this, Such a decision is not made lightly and so our friend needs time to ensure that he is comfortable with the way forward.”
Bishop Howe, 60, was elected and consecrated a bishop in 2000. Ordained a priest in the diocese of Nova Scotia in 1971, he served as director of social services at Fred Victor Mission in Toronto (1970-1974), as rector of St. Mary’s, Glace Bay, N.S. (1974 to 1980), and later, as rector of St. John’s, Lunenberg, N.S. (1980-1988). From 1988 to 2000 he served as dean of Huron and rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Ont.
“Bishop Howe is known for his tireless style of ministry and his constant care for God’s people,” said a press statement issued by the diocese. “Fond of saying, ‘God is good to Huron,’ Howe’s ever present smile and outgoing personality are hallmarks of how he has been good to the second largest Diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada.” (The diocese of Huron is comprised of 225 churches in a geographic area that extends from Windsor to London to Kitchener-Waterloo and Lake Erie to Tobermory.)
Bishop Robert Bennett, suffragan (assistant) bishop of Huron said, “It is difficult to contemplate Bishop Bruce not being at the helm of the diocese. His ever present faith, vision and energy have profoundly affected every facet of diocesan life and witness. As he transitions to the next phase of life’s journey, his Huron family wishes him God’s speed.” He added: “As a personal friend and Episcopal colleague these past years, I shall miss him deeply and wish he and his family nothing but a wonderful retirement.”
The diocese said an episcopal election to choose Bishop Howe’s successor would be announced later.
Under Bishop Howe’s leadership, the diocese of Huron held a grand celebration of its 150th anniversary last year. In the years before that, Bishop Howe was busy managing the diocese’s defence concerning lawsuits related to Mohawk Institute, a former Indian residential school, and leading the development of a strategic planned called Imagine Huron. To cover the mounting legal costs related to the residential schools lawsuits (Huron had spent $2 million before the national church reached a settlement agreement limiting legal liability from lawsuits), the diocese undertook a fundraising campaign.
In 2007, Bishop Howe was one of four bishops nominated to the office of primate (national archbishop).
“We need as a Diocese to raise a loud prayer of thanksgiving for the gift that Bruce has been to our Diocesan family: his smile, his uncanny ability to remember names and personal stories, his deep and unconditional love and care for each one that God entrusted to his ministerial care,” the letter also said. “We have been privileged to journey with him through his time as Dean and Bishop, and we will continue that journey as friends.”
Born in Wolfville, N.S., Bishop Howe received a bachelor of arts, and later, a master of sacred letters, at the University of King’s College, Halifax. In 1999, he received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Huron University College in London, Ont.
Bishop Howe and his wife, Jane, have four daughters.