Priest celebrates milestone

Published March 1, 2006

Bishop George Snell has set up a trust administered by the Anglican Foundation to finance special work in Toronto parishes.

Bishop George Snell on Jan. 25 celebrated a milestone few clergy reach: the 50th anniversary of his consecration as a bishop and the 75th year of his ordination as a priest. Beginning with a eucharist on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul that was celebrated at St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto, Bishop Snell, who is 98, then marked the occasion with a lunch. Guests included the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison; the diocesan bishop of Toronto, Colin Johnson; and the cathedral dean, Douglas Stoute.

In an interview, held several days before the lunch, Bishop Snell noted that he has set up a trust, administered by the Anglican Foundation, that is “doing various things.” Among those things is support of a lecture series that, in 2004, saw former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey speak on the topic “Whatever Happened to Christian Mission?” Archbishop Carey, noting that Bishop Snell was a well-known scholar, said, “I rather think you should be standing here giving the first Snell lecture yourself, George!”

The trust, named after Bishop Snell and his late wife, Esther, in 2003 distributed $25,000 to Toronto parishes for special work, according to an Anglican Foundation report. Another fund, named after Esther Snell, supported indigenous people studying for a theological degree.

Bishop Snell also supports other entities, such as the cathedral and his first church, St. Michael and All Angels, in Toronto. He also served as dean of Calgary. He was elected suffragan bishop of Toronto in 1956 and served as diocesan bishop from 1966 to 1972. When asked to cite the most important changes in the church during his lifetime, he first mentioned permitting the remarriage of divorced persons, “because we did it first” then the ordination of women and changes to the Book of Common Prayer. He greatly enjoyed, he said, contact with the international Anglican church through attendance at the 1958 and 1968 Lambeth conferences. And as for the secret of his longevity, “I just kept breathing,” he said.


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