After 11 years as bishop of the diocese of Central Newfoundland, David Torraville, 62, has announced his plan to retire at the end of June 2016.
“I’ve had opportunity to meet people, to go places, to do things that so few in the church have the privilege of doing, and it has been an incredible experience,” he said of his time as bishop. “There is much about it I am going to miss, but it is time to go.”
Torraville, who has spent all of his 31 years of ordained ministry in Central Newfoundland, explained that his intention was always to retire after 10 years in the episcopacy.
“I said that 10 years is a good time to be a bishop-after that, it becomes cruel and unusual punishment,” he chuckled.
While he spoke of going to the 2008 Lambeth Conference and sitting on the board of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund as being highlights of his time as bishop, he said one of his greatest joys was simply participating in the rhythms of diocesan life.
“The week-by-week life of a diocese is an incredible privilege. I’m the only person in the diocese, really, whose job it is to go around and visit all the congregations, and that is an incredible experience,” he said. “You get to meet people in larger congregations and smaller congregations, in all points of their lives.”
While Torraville’s decade of leadership took place during a difficult time in the life of the Anglican Church of Canada, with issues of human sexuality causing deep divisions in some areas, he said that he “always found the House of Bishops to be a really good place to be.” And, he said, despite disagreements and “painful moments,” he has appreciated the “integrity and honesty” of his episcopal peers.
As for his own diocese, he said things have been less divisive than they were in other parts of the national church.
“We struggle in this diocese, as with any diocese, as to the direction of the church and how we should react to issues of sexuality and one thing and another,” he said. “It’s been difficult, but for the most part, the discussions in the diocese have been very respectful.”
Born in Cartwright, Labrador, Torraville received a BA and a B.Ed from Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld., before going on to do his MDiv at Queen’s College in St. John’s. He served in parishes around Central Newfoundland before becoming executive officer of the diocese in 2000, a post he held until he became bishop.
Although his father, too, was an Anglican minister, Torraville said it was his mother’s spirituality that had a deeper impact on him growing up.
“I remember one time picking berries with Mom, and her walking through the woods and saying, ‘Your dad feels God when he walks into a church, and I feel God when I walk here,’” he recalled. “And this notion of the sanctity of the world, and the sanctity of creation- there was always, whether it was religious or not, and whether it was calling or not, there was always a sense that we were in the presence of the holy, regardless of where we were.”
Torraville said that after stepping down in June, he hopes to recapture a sense of that by spending a few months enjoying one of his favourite hobbies, salmon fishing, before settling into the simple pleasure of life in a parish.
“As good as it is to be bishop, one of the things that I really miss is to be able to stand at the front of the church and be able to look down and see people and know their family story, know their spiritual story, to know really deeply who they are,” he said. “I’ve missed that as a bishop, and I’d really like to spend a bit of time in a parish to... experience that again.”