By Matt Gardner
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, former primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will serve as assisting bishop for the diocese of Moosonee throughout 2020.
With current assistant bishop Thomas Corston retiring at the end of 2019, Hiltz took over as assisting bishop for one year starting on Jan. 1.
In this role, Hiltz is supporting Archbishop Anne Germond—currently bishop for the dioceses of Algoma and Moosonee, as well as metropolitan for the ecclesiastical province of Ontario—to help Moosonee navigate what Germond calls “a year of Holy Discernment.”
“I’m very excited to be working with [Hiltz] because he’s a man of great stature and credibility in the church,” Germond says. “He’s well-loved and well-respected. He has an incredible depth to him, both in his personal spiritual life and in the way he leads…. As Moosonee enters this new time of discernment, he is absolutely the perfect person to be working with me.”
This period of discernment relates primarily to the diocese’s evaluation of its current episcopal structures.
For the last several years, the diocese of Moosonee has been a mission area of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, meaning that the metropolitan serves as diocesan bishop. This relatively unusual practice follows earlier discernment in which the diocese concluded that it could no longer afford the office of a diocesan bishop.
Today, Germond says, Moosonee is once again facing financial challenges while she balances competing responsibilities. For these reasons, Germond has invited the diocese to discern whether the metropolitan functioning as diocesan bishop is still “the best model for us.”
As assisting bishop, Hiltz will reside in Toronto, but will likely make several visits to Moosonee as the diocese prepares for a special synod in November to discuss its current episcopal model.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with Anne,” Hiltz says. “She’s a very hardworking bishop, deeply pastoral and spiritual in her approach in every aspect of her ministry. It’s a great privilege…to journey with Moosonee through this time of discernment.
“There are wonderful, wonderful people across that diocese, and it’s going to be a real privilege to spend some very focused time with them.”
Hiltz first offered his services to Germond while attending the Algoma diocesan synod in May, when Corston announced his impending retirement.
The need for a supporting bishop in Moosonee stems partly from the vastness of the diocese, which has an area of 560,000 square kilometres (larger than Spain) that stretches across Ontario and Quebec up to the diocese of the Arctic.
In October, Germond invited Hiltz to become assistant bishop. Hiltz spent a week in discernment and then volunteered to support Germond as assisting bishop, a position with slightly less authority.
Since his retirement as primate, Hiltz has spent time with his wife and granddaughter, attended a family wedding in October and avoided travel.
“I have to be honest and say I don’t miss airports,” he jokes. “And I don’t miss living out of a suitcase.”
Hiltz expresses enthusiasm at his new ministry in Moosonee.
“My primary focus is around gathering folks and enabling them to tell their story, and to articulate their…concerns and hopes with respect to where God is leading them as a diocese,” he says.
Matt Gardner is a staff writer for the Anglican Journal. Most recently, Gardner worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014.
Anglican Journal, January 31, 2020