Bruce Myers, the current bishop of the diocese of Quebec, is still carrying the crozier that belonged to Archbishop Alexander Bruce Stavert, one of his predecessors in the role. Myers says the staff acts as a tangible reminder of the legacy he carries with him of a predecessor who encouraged him to get ordained and walked with him through much of his career.
“When I’m carrying it, when I’m blessing people with it in my hand, I’m conscious that this crozier has been around the block of the diocese of Quebec many, many times and was very much associated with Bishop Bruce,” he says.
Stavert, himself a former bishop of the diocese of Quebec and later metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, died Sept. 11 at age 83.
Born in 1940, raised and confirmed in Montreal, Stavert studied at Lower Canada College, Bishop’s University and Trinity College in Toronto before becoming ordained at the age of 25. He served in a range of postings, beginning with a term in Schefferville where he became close with members of the Naskapi Nation of of Kawawachikamach. After retiring from his later role as metropolitan, he returned to Montreal and served several parishes as an interim priest, including his childhood home church of St. Matthias, Westmount.
He was known for his comprehensive ministry of presence with Anglicans across the diocese, says Myers—a major achievement in a diocese where being present for many parishes meant making yearly rounds across hundreds of kilometers by car, boat, snowmobile and float plane.
Another hallmark of his tenure was his commitment to ecumenical relations, especially critical in the cultural context of Quebec, where the Roman Catholic church is a much larger social force than the comparatively small Anglican one, says Myers. During his career, Stavert served for several years as co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada and, more personally, forged genuine friendships with many of the Roman Catholic bishops he served alongside.
“For a long time in Anglican and Catholic history, there was a real enmity between Anglicans and Catholics and Anglican and Catholic leaders,” says Myers. “Bishop Stavert regularly and sincerely extended the hand of friendship and fellowship to his Roman Catholic counterparts over the years, I think [setting] a real tangible example,”
Stavert also had deep ties to the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, where he served as a newly ordained priest in the 1960s. Ruby Sandy-Robinson, a lifelong resident of Kawawachikamach and a member of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), was nine years old when he came to town and remembers her father, a Naskapi catechist working closely with Stavert to minister to the newly settled nation, which had just transitioned from a nomadic way of life and begun learning English as a second language. She remembers Stavert as a beloved member of the community who ran an after-school program to help the local children with their homework, gave them rides in his yellow Volkswagen Beetle if they missed the bus and made a regular practice of checking in on people around the community, at home or in hospital to see how they were doing.
“You could see that he deeply cared about us and our wellbeing, not only spiritually, but also with our integration into this fairly new life we had. He was very well respected and would often be offered traditional food, which he graciously accepted,” she told the Journal.
And Stavert maintained a relationship with the community there for the rest of his life, she says. They celebrated when he became a bishop, and he recommended Sandy-Robinson for her second term in ACIP. He also added his voice to the community’s during the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s work in 2013, she says.
Sandy-Robinson said she and a group of other residents of Kawawachikamach had plans to travel to Quebec city’s Cathedral of the Holy Trinity for Stavert’s funeral on Sept. 30.
Stavert is survived by his wife, Diana, their children Kathleen, Rosamond, and Timothy, and their grandchildren Miakim and Hendrick.
Correction: Archbishop Stavert served as metropolitan of Canada. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story.