EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bishop Tom Corston of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee announces retirement effective December 31, 2013

Rt. Rev. Thomas A. Corston, the ninth bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee has announced that he will retire from the position effective December 31, 2013.

In a letter to the people of Moosonee on May 8, Bishop Corston said: "Following a rather lengthy period of prayer and reflection I have decided that it is time for me to retire. I have informed Archbishop Colin Johnson that I will resign as Bishop of Moosonee on December 31, 2013. At year’s end I will be just short of my 65th birthday and 40 years of ordination." 

Reporting on Bishop Corston's retirement the Anglican Journal said: " His retirement will coincide with the date that a decision to restructure the diocese into a mission area will take effect."

Bishop Corston said in his letter: I do not think I can continue to provide the leadership required much beyond this point in our Diocese’s restructuring process as outlined in the Vision Quest program. It is a good plan and I believe we have done all we can to secure our future as  the Anglican community in this Diocese. 

"I am sure that much of the angst some people are feeling will settle once the Diocese is living in the new entity. At year’s end a part-time Administrator will be appointed who will take over the administrative ministry of the Area. While it is a good plan it is, hopefully, not forever and before too long the Diocese will feel comfortable in electing a new Bishop to oversee new growth and vitality in this northern Church."

However, he is not leaving entirely as he will remain involved as "the 'Episcopal Visitor' for the Mission Area as an assurance that Confirmations and Ordinations are cared for and all parishes are visited. I will also act as 'Consultant' to the Archbishop and the Administrator for matters that may present themselves. I will easily be able to undertake those ministries from my Sudbury home for the foreseeable future or until a successor to this Office is chosen."

To most people in Chapleau, the bishop is known simply as 'Tom', the son of Frances (Jardine) and the late Henry 'Chicken' Corston. Both his parents come from pioneer families of the community.

Tom recently was presented with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Ontario Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, of which he is chaplain. In accepting the medal, he made special note of his father who was wounded in action during World War II and all veterans.

In his letter, he added: "I have enjoyed the brief time that I have been Bishop of this Diocese, in spite of the need for our having to restructure which is the cause of some sadness. I must say, however, that in my almost 40 years of ordained ministry the Lord has led me down roads I would never have gone otherwise. 

"It has been truly a remarkable experience. The last few years as your Bishop have been a tremendously fulfilling opportunity to provide leadership in a changing and challenging time for the Church in the north. I am so very thankful to the people of Moosonee for your support and I praise God for you all."

He was ordained deacon at a service in St. John's Anglican Church in 1974 and to the priesthood in 1975 in Timmins. He became bishop of Moosonee in 2010.

As part of his retirement announcement, Bishop Corston shared his disappointment with a lack of progress on plans for the future of historic St. John's, Chapleau. Although St. John's was established in Chapleau in 1885, the first service was held in the present church on March 29, 1908, making it the oldest 'public' building remaining in Chapleau.

The present Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church was opened on Christmas Eve 1919 after the original church building was destroyed in a fire, and the Royal Canadian Legion Hall was built in 1920 and Chapleau Public School about the same time.

Bishop Corston explained that in September 2012 an agreement was reached between him and some of the community leadership in Chapleau for the formation of a new Historical Society that would form a Board of Directors  and apply for incorporation. That new Society would then take over the ownership of old St. John's Church which would plan to use the building as a future cultural and historical centre for the town, as well as a site for community groups to gather, including a senior's centre. It was believed that it would be easier for such a group to apply for government funding to repair and upkeep the old church. 

He added that to ensure that the present Anglican congregation could continue to use the church for worship, two representatives of the new society would be elected from the congregation. Indeed, at their annual congregational meeting in January, two members were elected to represent the Anglican concerns on the new Board.
"Unfortunately the plans have fallen through", he wrote,  adding that  in a recent conversation with the Mayor of Chapleau, Andre Byham, he learned that the leadership for the project decided that they were not interested in undertaking the work required.  

"At the moment, according to the Mayor, there is no one else in the town interested in taking over the project," Bishop Corston said 

He said this is a "major disappointment" as the present congregation is too small to manage the required building renovations and upkeep. 

However, he remains dedicated to doing everything  possible to assure the old church is properly cared for, but as he expressed to the Diocesan Executive Council, this is a major dilemma for the Diocese. 

"It would be horrible to allow this rich piece of Chapleau's history to deteriorate to the point where is became necessary to demolish the  beautiful building."
Bishop Corston concluded his letter: "Thank you so much for your prayers and friendship that have upheld me as your Bishop. Moosonee was my first home in the Church after ordination and because of you it continues to hold tightly to my heart. For me it has been and continues to be, in the words of Robert Renison, our fifth Bishop, 'Ye Happie Kingdom'. May God bless you as you serve our Lord Jesus Christ in the years ahead."

If any are willing to assist Tom in ensuring a positive future for St. John's, please feel free to contact him, or chat with members of the church in Chapleau.  My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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