Saint Paul University honours John Baycroft

John Baycroft, former bishop of the diocese of Ottawa, received this year’s Eugene de Mazenon medal from Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Photo: Saint Paul University
John Baycroft, former bishop of the diocese of Ottawa, received this year’s Eugene de Mazenon medal from Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Photo: Saint Paul University
Published April 9, 2013

On April 3, Ottawa’s Saint Paul University awarded John Baycroft, the former bishop of Ottawa, with the Eugene de Mazenod medal.

According to information from the university, the medal honours “a person who has made a significant contribution to developing human capital in his or her environment or more widely in society.” Eugene de Mazenod was the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the order that founded the university, and he placed great importance on “adapting to people’s real situations, by showing boldness and zeal in dealing with urgent societal issues,” the prize announcement explained.

Professor Kevin Flynn, who is director of the Anglican studies program at Saint Paul University, which was founded in 1848 by the Oblates, was part of the nominating committee. Flynn highlighted the significance of some of Baycroft’s accomplishments for those assembled at the ceremony. “Any brief survey of John Baycroft’s career could furnish any number of examples of why he is a worthy recipient of this honour,” he said.

Flynn noted that Baycroft has spent most of his ordained life in the diocese of Ottawa and served in several parishes before becoming dean of Ottawa and rector of Christ Church Cathedral. The bishop has also done chaplaincy work in prisons and for the militia. He taught both religion and history at Carleton University, as well as teaching in the faculty of theology at Saint Paul. Baycroft became suffragan bishop of Ottawa in 1985; in 1993, he became diocesan bishop. He was also archdeacon and canon theologian of the diocese.

But it was his important work building bridges between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches that Flynn really illuminated. Baycroft is a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and co-chair of the Canadian Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue. After his retirement as diocesan bishop of Ottawa in 1999, he served for a year as director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, which is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy to the Holy See. It was through this work, particularly on the Canadian dialogue, Flynn said, that Baycroft helped to make possible the establishment of the Anglican studies program at Saint Paul University.

“It required a basis of trust and understanding and a desire to make concrete what dialogue was about,” said Flynn, also crediting Jean-Marie Tillard, a Dominican priest from the Dominican College in Ottawa, who was also part of both the Canadian and international dialogues.

“If you had asked anybody, the Oblates or anybody else back in 1848 when they set up this university, whether they ever could have imagined that it would also become a place where future Anglican priests could prepare for ordination, they would have thought you were crazy, given the relations of Roman Catholics and Anglicans or other Christians at that time, or the French-English divide in Canada,” Flynn told the Anglican Journal. “And yet for over 30 years the Anglican studies program has been a part of this university and it has been a part of both imagining and living into a future that is more about reconciliation and commonality than it is about divisions and difference.”



  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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