New bishop consecrated for military ordinariate

Bishop-elect Nigel Shaw is smudged by Major the Rev. Catherine Askew before he is presented. Photo: Art Babych
Bishop-elect Nigel Shaw is smudged by Major the Rev. Catherine Askew before he is presented. Photo: Art Babych
Published May 30, 2016

Long-time Anglican chaplain Col. the Ven. Nigel Shaw was ordained a bishop and consecrated as bishop ordinary of the Anglican Military Ordinariate in a dual ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral May 28.

“Nigel comes to this ministry with a long and distinguished career with the Canadian Forces and long and faithful service as a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada,” the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, told the gathering before the start of the service.

Hiltz was the presiding celebrant and chief consecrator. He was assisted during Shaw’s consecration by 12 Anglican bishops from across Canada, among them retired former primate Archbishop Andrew Hutchison and Bishop Mark McDonald, the national Indigenous Anglican bishop.

Shaw, a chaplain since 1985, was director of chaplaincy operations for the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force before his election as bishop ordinary.

Until this year, bishops ordinary were appointed by primates and were drawn from the pool of retired bishops. That meant a bishop ordinary was elected but only by “the very family this bishop serves,” said Hiltz. The situation changed with the adoption of Canon XXIII during the 2013 Joint Assembly with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, which allowed for the election of bishops ordinary by the church at large. Shaw was elected March 5 by way of an electronic electoral synod. “We are consecrating a bishop in the church for this special ministry,” said Hiltz.

The primate credited “the visionary leadership of Bishop Peter Coffin and those who worked very closely with him” for the development of the plan for the election and consecration of a bishop ordinary. Coffin, former bishop of Ottawa, retired this year after serving as bishop ordinary since 2004. He was honoured at a gathering in Ottawa the previous evening.

The primate also praised Hutchison, his predecessor, for establishing a fund to “assure resources were in place for this ministry of bishop ordinary,” before retiring.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz prays as the bishops lay their hands on the bishop-elect. Photo: Art Babych
Archbishop Fred Hiltz prays as the bishops lay their hands on the bishop-elect. Photo: Art Babych

Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop of Toronto and Moosonee and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, preached at the ordination and consecration service for Shaw. “The bishop’s first and primary task is teaching, preaching and interpreting the Christian faith, both in the gathered religious communities and in the wider secular community of which the church forms a part,” said Johnson.

He also suggested the ministry of the bishop ordinary is like “an official guardian and a moral compass.” There is a “larger narrative” for Christians and other faiths “that informs our lives, and a greater mission to which we are called and of which the bishop is the chief, if not the sole, guardian,” he said.

A bishop should also be “a bridge,” linking regions, parishes and chaplaincies, said Johnson. “They represent their people to the wider church and the wider church to their people.”

Along with supporting Anglican chaplains in their ministries in the Canadian Forces and recruiting new chaplains, the bishop ordinary is the official representative of the Anglican Church of Canada on the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy.

The Anglican military ordinariate is not a diocese, but is made up of all of the Anglicans in the Canadian Forces. Many who in work in chaplaincy are also members of diocesan parishes as well as military chapels.

Christ Church is the cathedral of the Canadian Forces Anglican Military Ordinariate and Lt. Col the Rev. Canon Michelle Staples is an honourary assistant at the church. Among those at the service were several Anglican chaplains, clergy and parishioners from the diocese of Ottawa.

Guests included Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, Canada’s top female general, who is commander of Military Personnel Command, and Fr. Guy Chapdelaine, chaplain general of the Canadian military. Bishop Scott McCaig, who is to be ordained May 31 as the bishop of the Military Ordinariate for the Catholic Church in Canada, and Bishop Donald J. Thériault, who is retiring from the position after 18 years, were also guests.


  • Art Babych

    Art is the former editor of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Ottawa.

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