Enthronement Reception Address

Bishop Seraphim : Speech
Enthronement of the Right Reverend Seraphim,
Bishop of Ottawa and of Canada
Château Laurier, Ottawa
28 October 1990

Words at the Reception

With joy, I greet you all this evening as we join in this celebration : a celebration which is indeed remarkable for our archdiocesan family. For the first time a ruling bishop of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and of Canada has been enthroned in Canada. For the first time a Canadian-born bishop for this archdiocesan family is given the responsibility of leading the flock of Christ here. Being that bishop, I assure you that I feel rather shaky in the face of all that is given, and more, in the face of all that I shall be called to account for. It is François de Sales who said that he would know what it meant to be a bishop one half hour after he died. Since that probably describes me too, I am all the more shaky, and ready to commend myself to your prayerful support.

The history of our Church in North America is hardly known outside of our community, and even less known is the history of our Church in Canada. It is now about 120 years ago that the first recorded services were provided for a congregation gathered in Lennoxville, Québec. As a matter of interest, the hospitality of Bishops University was acknowledged by the gift of a copy of the Codex Sinaiticus given by the Russian Ambassador in Washington, D.C. It was about twenty-five years later that the great immigration began, mostly into the west of Canada and our parochial life began to take shape. During the last nearly hundred years, along with the world, we have known good times and hard times. We have prospered, but we have also faltered and even fallen. Nevertheless, God’s great mercy has brought us to this day, and to these historic events.

But if these events are historic and significant, we had better not venture to be triumphalistic, for we know the fragility of our archdiocese. Probably this fragility is part of God’s blessing for us, for without a good sense of this fragility it is too easy to forget to depend on God for all things. “To rely upon the earthly makes it difficult to rely, as we ought, simply upon God from day to day” (Richard Benson, unpublished letter, SSJE 1897).

It is with thankfulness that we now remember the past, and consider the challenges of the future. Avec nos paroisses Québecoises, en considération de leur futur dans la francophonie, et avec les autres paroisses à l’ouest du Canada, nous prions le bon Dieu pour son assistance quotidienne. With not only two languages to work with, but many, and with vast distances to cover, our Churchly family closely reflects the land in which we live, and the difficulties of meeting pressing needs and challenges. We know that it is only in our humility that the Lord will be able to work His will.

Today, we heartily give thanks for the many assurances of His love for us which we have received. We give thanks for the blessing of the land which has received us and embraced us – immigrants and refugees alike. We give thanks for the immigrant and refugee Church which God is using to enrich this hospitable land, and which has properly taken permanent root here. And I myself give thanks for this once-immigrant Church which embraced this son of an immigrant and immigrants.

Your Beatitude, Your Excellences, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, God grant you Many Years !