In Memoriam: The Most Reverend Bruce Stavert

Archbishop Bruce Stavert ‘64, Bishop of Quebec and Archbishop of the Province of Canada, died in Montreal on September 11, 2023.

Bruce was Chaplain at Trinity from 1969-1976. His rooms in College were a popular place to go on Sunday evenings for many reasons, not the least of which was that he did wonderful imitations of some of the faculty, almost becoming an imitation of himself. But on one particularly memorable evening he showed slides from his first parish of Schefferville (northern Quebec), and especially of the Naskapi community, which was then living at Matimekosh next to the mining town.

I was so impressed that this man, who came from a privileged background in upscale Montreal, was perfectly at home on a ski-doo, wearing locally knitted toques and caribou mitts. Bruce engaged in reconciliation work there long before that task became much known in Canada, as he did in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan when he was Dean in the 1980’s, and then in Quebec as Bishop and Archbishop.

Bruce encouraged the Naskapi to integrate their language and culture into Anglo-Catholic liturgy, making the experience of prayer in that community one that authentically expressed Naskapi spirituality. He paid particular attention to the young people, many of whom had to leave the community to go to school in the south before there were proper schools for them at home. As a result, the church was truly a place for all ages, a home for feasts and wakes and meetings with government officials as the Naskapi negotiated a sweeping agreement with the Government of Quebec that secured their land and their hunting and fishing rights and led them to their new home of Kawawachikamach.

As chaplain at Trinity, Bruce was innovative. He and David McKnight 7T2 and others revived the ancient practice of the Easter Vigil, poring over old texts and putting together a wonderful liturgy that has now come into very common use across our country. The Resurrection party that followed was also a hit. He encouraged students to play guitars at folk masses, and he was the first chaplain to – horrors! – allow women to be servers in Trinity Chapel. That old Gothic roof never fell.

When he served as Bishop and Archbishop in Quebec, Bruce travelled constantly in all kinds of conditions to many remote communities on the Lower North Shore, the Gaspesie and the Eastern Townships. Perfectly at ease in French, he built a strong friendship with his Roman Catholic counterparts, and served for some years as Anglican co-chair of the Anglican Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada. With his wife, Diana, and their three children Kathleen, Rosamond and Timothy, they welcomed a huge variety of guests to the beautiful old bishop’s house in the heart of Quebec City.

After Bruce’s retirement he returned to serve as an honorary assistant in his home parish of St Matthias, Westmount.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

— The Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan ’71, ’75, ’87, ’06


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