Walter Asbil remembered as ‘wise and compassionate’ bishop who made room for marginalized people

Asbil, who died April 8, was bishop of the diocese of Niagara from 1991 to 1997. Photo: diocese of Niagara
Published April 13, 2023

Walter Asbil, former bishop of the diocese of Niagara, died April 8 at age 90. Asbil served as a priest for 40 years after his ordination in 1957, and was bishop of Niagara from 1991 until his retirement in 1997. His career in the church also saw him through posts in Montreal, St. Catharines and Hamilton, Ont. and as rector of Christ Church Cathedral in the diocese of Ottawa.  

In a press release, Susan Bell, current bishop of the diocese of Niagara, said, “Bishop Walter was a faithful and dedicated servant who led the diocese with the heart of a pastor … He was wise and compassionate, and his commitment to equipping the saints for ministry is remembered fondly by those whom he influenced across the Church.” 

Asbil is survived by his wife, Mavis, children Brent, Andrew (now bishop of the diocese of Toronto), Mark and Cynthia and his grandchildren. 

In an interview with the Journal, Bishop Andrew Asbil described his father as “a kind, warm, generous leader that had the incredible ability to be able to welcome and to provide and create space for everyone.” Asbil praised his father’s inclusiveness, both of marginalized people in the church, the poor and LGBT members of his congregation. He said he was known for making whoever he was talking to at any time feel like the most important person in the room.  

“His humour was always disarming and playful—never a put—down,” Andrew Asbil said. “He was self-deprecating to a fault and that always put you at ease. That was one of his great gifts”  

Asbil’s memorial service will be held April 24 at St. George’s Church in St. Catherines, Ont. with a livestream on the parish YouTube channel. 


  • Sean Frankling

    Sean Frankling’s experience includes newspaper reporting as well as writing for video and podcast media. He’s been chasing stories since his first co-op for Toronto’s Gleaner Community Press at age 19. He studied journalism at Carleton University and has written for the Toronto Star, WatchMojo and other outlets.

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