Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams visited Montreal Diocesan Theological College on Friday, September 15, to preach, celebrate the Eucharist, and reflect on the ministry for which students are preparing.
In his morning homily at the college’s regular Friday morning Eucharist, Archbishop Williams spoke about the importance of seeing clearly and being seen clearly by God. Preaching on Jesus’ teaching about needing to see the log in our own eyes before seeing the speck in our neighbour’s, Archbishop Williams encouraged the college community to ask what it was that we were not seeing: about ourselves, about one another, and about the world around us. He recalled a visit he made to a primary school when archbishop. One of the young students reported to her parents afterward that they had been visited by the “optician”—”archbishop” being too difficult a word to pronounce. But optician, Archbishop Williams said, may be a clear description of the role of Christians and especially Christian clergy: to help others see “with clarity and charity.”
Over breakfast after the service, Archbishop Williams led a discussion with students from the college, as well as partner colleges in the Montreal School of Theology, on the theme of the ministry of a priest in the modern world. He highlighted two themes: vocation and location. The vocation that clergy have is part of the vocation that a Christian congregation has: to be called out and represent God’s love to the world. Clergy do this by standing in the location where they can help the congregation see clearly and see where God is calling them. Students asked a range of questions, including about the centrality of sacraments to the ministry of priests, how bivocational clergy can occupy the locations that Archbishop Williams described, and how the ministry of deacons fits what Archbishop Williams was saying.
Archbishop Williams retired in 2012 and is now master of Magdalene College in Cambridge. He is one of the leading theologians in the English-speaking world and author of numerous books, including Faith in the Public Square and Tokens of Trust. He was in Montreal as part of a conference on religious diversity and secularism hosted by the college’s partners at McGill University.
Archbishop Williams is the first of a series of international visitors to the college this term. Later in September, the college will host a delegation from the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa led by Archbishop Albert Chama of the Anglican Province of Central Africa. In October, Archbishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem, will be a visitor to the college.
To see more photos of Archbishop Williams’ visit, please click here.