His passion spoke volumes

BATTING ABOVE AVERAGE: Armed with a cricket swing perfected at Cambridge, Bishop Barry Valentine scores big for his bishops’ team win at the 1978 Lambeth Conference of Bishops.
Published December 1, 2009

He was admired as much for being a resolute thinker and writer as he was for being a talented organist and choir director.

Bishop Barry Valentine, who served in the diocese of Rupert’s Land from 1970 to 1982, died on Oct. 16 at the age of 82.

In his 10th year as bishop in 1979, he told the Rupert’s Land News that he counted among his most important achievements “…the quality of openness in our decision making, in our relationships, in our commitment and in our participation, which is of fundamental importance for our community and for our mission in ministry.”

Born in Essex, England, Bishop Valentine received an honours degree in history and divinity at St. John’s College in Cambridge, England in 1949. He received a licentiate in theology from the Montreal Diocesan Theological College in 1951, and a bachelor of divinity at McGill University in 1951. He later received a master’s degree from St. John’s, in Cambridge, and a doctor of divinity at St. John’s College in Winnipeg.

Ordained a priest in Montreal in 1952, Bishop Valentine began his early ministry as incumbent of the parish in Beauharnois-Chateauguay, diocese of Montreal. He also served as director of religious education, as rector of St. Barnabas in Lambert, and as executive officer. In addition, he served the church on the national level-as a member of General Synod, a member of the National Executive Council (now the Council of General Synod) and as member of committees on long range planning, theological education, and ecumenical affairs.

A self-described “fanatic fan” of the Montreal Canadiens, Bishop Valentine had a lot of interest in sports. While living in St. Lambert with his wife, Mary Currell Hayes, and their four children, they were actively involved in community sports associations.

Never one to dodge controversy, Bishop Valentine presented a paper to the House of Bishops in 1972 that asked, “How does the House of Bishops give leadership to the Church?” In it, he offered a comment about “the nature of power and a not uncommon abuse of it,” His conclusion: “…we pretend to a power and authority which we do not have and cannot be substantiated.” An advocate for the ordination of women to the priesthood, it was during Bishop Valentine’s episcopacy that women became deacons and priests in his diocese in the late 70s.

Bishop Valentine was only 55 when he retired as the bishop of the Winnipeg-based Rupert’s Land “because I don’t think it’s a good idea for people to have the same bishop for too many years.” He added that while he was in office, he “tried to stir up and share whatever gifts the Lord has given me; now, I truly believe, the time has come for me to offer you the gift of my absence.”

Bishop Valentine left his office with only a plan to “spend time in reflection and perhaps writing…”

During retirement, Bishop Valentine was able to fully indulge his deep other passion-music-serving as rector, organist and choir director of the Anglican Parish of Salt Spring Island, B.C.


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