The Bone-Lazy Pastor

One of my relatives, a great uncle, was a pastor—a clergyman for the Church of England who served in Canada’s province of Quebec. Family lore is that he was not a particularly good pastor. My mother was recently sorting through some old family papers and came across a letter that would seem to say that the lore is based on fact. This letter was sent to him in 1942 by the Right Reverend Philip Carrington, Bishop of Quebec. I don’t know anything much about Carrington, but I admire his forthrightness! 

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My Dear [Name],

You asked me again about a chaplaincy when I called on you a month ago. I am going to tell you the brutal truth. I do not see that you would make a good chaplain. When I ordained you six years ago, I did so because (in spite of appearances) I believed you had qualities of energy and devotion and hard work, and certain abilities in the way of dealing with men and boys. I appointed you to Hatley because I still had the same impression. You showed certain signs of energy when you first went to Grosse Ile, but they did not appear again until your short stay at Ayers Cliff. Since then they have disappeared. The girls’ work at Ayers Cliff has disappeared, too. So has the young people’s work at Hatley. I listened to your excuses and was not convinced. I like you, as you know; but friendship must not blind the eyes to facts. If you have not convinced me that you are working, it is very unlikely that you are working. The truth, I now suspect, is that you are bone-lazy. You don’t attend deanery meetings; you failed to send a boy to our camp; you are as friendly and sociable as can be; you do some visiting. My dear Bill, it isn’t good enough. You must get down to hard, energetic methodical labour. I shall come, if possible, in the fall, and see how you are getting on.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Quebec