In Memoriam: The Most Reverend Michael Peers

The Most Reverend Michael Geoffrey Peers, a Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, passed away on July 27, 2023. He was ordained in 1960. He served the Anglican Church as university chaplain, parish priest, Dean of Qu’Appelle, Bishop of the Diocese of Qu’Appelle, and Metropolitan of the Province of Rupert’s Land. He was elected to the office of Primate in 1986.

Michael Geoffrey Peers ’59, M.Div ’78 is an esteemed alumnus of Trinity College. At one point Michael turned away from the church. What drew him back was the knowledge that you could still be a person of faith alongside intellectual discernment. What followed for Michael was a life committed to building justice and reconciliation.

I first met Archbishop Peers in 1980. It was the year I should have graduated from Trinity Divinity. The three women in our year all chose to walk away for several reasons, not the least of which was how difficult it was to find a sponsoring Bishop. That year the General Synod was being held in Peterborough. I arranged an interview with Michael and was treated with dignity and respect. He said that he would, “take a chance on me” but that he had no opportunities at the moment. During my time at Trinity, there were a few Bishops who were critical of Trinity’s preparation of clergy, but Michael was one of the Bishops who felt confident in students from Trinity.

Eventually, after working as a lay chaplain at McMaster, I was ordained by Michael in 1982 and finally graduated from Trinity in 1983. I began my adventure in the Diocese of Qu’Appelle not knowing anyone in Saskatchewan except Michael Peers. He was an amazing Bishop who listened carefully to everyone, knew people by name and supported a diversity of leadership among clergy and laity. The Ministry on the Prairies required doing much with fewer resources. Michael encouraged creativity and brought the best out of leaders. It is telling that the first Primates were elected from the West.

Archbishop Michael always acted with his complete attention and respect, whether on a ranch in Loverna, among Indigenous and Inuit people, at Church House in Toronto or the many International gatherings. He did not avoid any of the issues facing the church or the world. Michael’s voice was prophetic. He was the only non- Indigenous person at the Sacred Circle where he offered an apology long before any other leaders. When General Synod struggled with a statement on human rights, Michael used his power of concurrence to keep the justice issue on the table. Who can forget Michael and Telmor Sartison dancing together in celebration of Anglican/Lutheran full communion.

I remember a powerful moment at a General Synod when Michael stepped down from his seat as chair to join a line at the microphone. The debate was about human sexuality and he chose to speak as a member not as chair. He made reference to the words of the prophets written on the subway walls, lyrics in a Simon and Garfunkel song., saying “At Carleton the sign said, we have names for lesbians, gays and bisexuals: co-worker, classmate, professor, roommate, friend.” There are so many memories and so many great stories, so many prophetic words and actions.

I had the deep privilege of being close to Michael, Dorothy and their family. Their home was always a gathering place for food, friendship and amazing conversation. Dorothy and Michael supported many international students offering a home and support. Archbishop Michael Peers was a master of many languages, and he used that ability to draw people together from around the world. He truly made a place for everyone at the table.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.


—-The Rev. Canon Helena Houldcroft ’83



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