Bishop-elect Patrick Yu
The Anglican Church of Canada has its first bishop of Asian descent – Canon Patrick Yu, the Hong Kong-born incumbent of St. Timothy’s Anglican church in Agincourt, Ont., who was elected suffragan bishop in the diocese of Toronto Jan. 7.
Bishop-elect Yu, 54, elected at St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto, will become the area bishop of York-Scarborough, east of Toronto, which has about 70 parishes. His consecration has been scheduled for March 25. The diocese has a total of four areas overseen by four suffragan bishops and a diocesan bishop.
“It’s a significant event, but I also believe that it is important for everyone in the church, particularly its leaders, to be able to go outside of their own cultural envelope and stand beside a person of another culture,” he said after the election. “I believe that having been an immigrant and an outsider may give me an advantage in doing that.”
He added: “I’m aware that York-Scarborough in particular is an area where the demographics have shifted and that has led to some difficult times, so I think we have to look very carefully at how we put our resources in place so that we encourage healthy and strong churches. There will be many other things to do like supporting youth ministry, but at this stage I think it’s better to listen first and then determine what needs to be done.”
Bishop-elect Yu earned a bachelor of arts degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., in 1974, graduating summa cum laude. He received a master of divinity at Wycliffe College in Toronto in 1981, and a doctor of ministry at Toronto School of Theology in 1997.
Ordained a priest in 1982, he began his ministry as assistant curate of Scarborough’s Church of the Epiphany. He later worked as an incumbent of the parish of Coldwater-Medonte, Ontario (1983 to 1990); secretary of the advisory committee for postulants for ordination in northern and western Ontario (1984 to 1988); incumbent of North York’s St. Theodore of Canterbury (1990 to 1997); and incumbent of St. Timothy’s Anglican church in Agincourt in 1997.
A member of Toronto’s diocesan council, Bishop-elect Yu has also been liturgical officer for the York-Scarborough area, a member of General Synod, and a member of a sexuality dialogue group.
In response to written questions posed by the nominating committee, Bishop-elect Yu said that the “first and most important task of a bishop is to support the work of parishes.” His priority, he said, would be to “find ways to maximize my time spent with clergy and parish leaders, first to listen, then offer support and encouragement.”
He also said that a bishop must be a “symbol of unity.” He added: “In the present climate, the church needs leaders who are theologically articulate as well as being good and respectful listeners.” He cited “inter-faith and cross-cultural relations” as an area of interest.
A Christian from a Buddhist background, Bishop-elect Yu said that while attending Anglican schools in Hong Kong, “the stories and ethos of the Christian faith slowly influenced my thinking” and became clear around his father’s death when he was 13.
Bishop-elect Yu and his wife, Kathy, have three grown children – Christina, Teresa and Joseph.
Canon Yu will join the five-person College of Bishops, which has episcopal oversight of the diocese. Bishop Colin Johnson, the diocesan bishop, said Canon Yu will be a strong addition to the College.
“I think the church has made a very good choice,” Bishop Johnson said after the election. “Patrick is an extraordinarily able priest and will make a great bishop. I think it would be hard for the church to lose in today’s balloting because whoever was chosen would have been exceptional. We had a very good slate of nominees.”
The other nominees were: Rev. Terry Bennett, incumbent of St. James’, Orillia; Rev. Canon Dawn Davis, director of Ministry Resources at the diocese; Archdeacon Peter Fenty, archdeacon of York and executive assistant to the Bishop of Toronto; Archdeacon Elizabeth Hardy, archdeacon of York-Scarborough and coordinator of Planning and Development; Rev. Kate Merriman, incumbent of St. Mark and Calvary, Toronto; Rev. Richard Miller, incumbent of St. Matthew’s, Oshawa, Ont.; and Rev. Canon John Wilton, incumbent of St. George’s, Willowdale, Ont..
Canon Yu was elected on the fourth ballot. The diocesan Web site reported that Archdeacon Fenty received the second-highest vote total. A total of 620 electoral synod members, including clergy and lay, cast their votes on the final ballot. “In a show of solidarity after the election, Archdeacon Fenty moved that synod approve the election unanimously,” it said. “Synod agreed.”.