The beginning of the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton was with an Anglican priest in Hamilton, Ontario, by the name of William Henry "Harry" Daw (1902 to 1986). Fr. Daw was the curate of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Hamilton from 1929 to 1934. He had literally grown up in that parish as his father, the Reverend Canon Samuel Daw had been St. John's rector from 1896 until his retirement in 1920. Harry was ordered a deacon in 1929 by the then Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Niagara, Dr. Derwyn T. Owen, and was immediately appointed to the curateship of St. John's. The following year on the 21 May 1930, Dr. Owen ordained Harry to the priesthood in St. John's. Fr. Daw was a very able curate; he helped established a number of different organisations in the parish such as an altar guild and a young people's group and brought in new parishioners. However, he was of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican Church and insisted on bringing in the beliefs and rituals associated with that faction into St. John's. The new diocesan bishop of Niagara, Dr. Lewis W. B. Broughall (tenure 1933 to 1949), was a Low Churchman and did not appreciate the changes Fr. Daw was bringing into the worship at St. John's. The rector of the parish was Fr. E. H. Bowden Taylor, who had succeeded the senior Daw as parish priest in 1920 and had to deal with the great influence the Daw family exercised in the parish. Sometimes he agreed with the ideas of his young curate and sometimes he felt the younger Daw was going beyond his authority. When Fr. Taylor resigned his position to go to another charge, Harry felt that the Bishop would appoint him St. John's new rector. However, Bishop Broughall would not appoint Fr. Daw the new rector. He indicated that 11 February 1934 would be the last day of Fr. Daw's curacy and that after that date he should remove himself from officiating at any services at that church. In protest, Fr. Daw organised house Masses for his supporters and by the following month he had such a large number that they purchased the former Westmount Presbyterian Church building at 420 Aberdeen Avenue and immediately began renovate the church to suit Anglo-Catholic worship. The church was dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. Fr. Daw wanted to have this parish recognised by the Diocese of Niagara as a new parish in the City of Hamilton where Anglo-Catholics would be able to worship as they wished. But Dr. Broughall viewed Fr. Daw and his Parish of St. Francis of Assisi as being in schism and brought Fr. Daw before his Ecclesiastical Court. On 5 March 1935 Fr. Harry Daw was found guilty of violating his oath of canonical obedience and of formatting schism. He was deposed from the ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada and his name was struck off from the list of clergy of the Diocese of Niagara. However, both St. Francis and the Diocese of Niagara entered into talks on how to effect some sort of acceptance of the parish within the Diocese. For the following two years there was some hope that Fr. Daw would again become license to minister in the Anglican Church and that St. Francis would become an official Anglican parish. But by 1937 the talks ceased and the division became complete. In that year the 'Independent Anglican Church of Canada' was born with Fr. Harry Daw as its senior cleric and St. Francis of Assisi has its first parish.
Because the new jurisdiction did not have a bishop, episcopal oversight was kindly supplied by the Rt. Rev. Charles H. Hampton, Liberal Catholic Regionary Bishop for the USA and Canada. During 21 to 23 November of 1937 Dr. Hampton paid his first visit to his Canadian Church and ordained two men to the priesthood. By December of 1939, St. Mark's Church in Toronto, Ontario, was in the IACC under the charge of Fr. A. Patrick Mahoney. At that time the clergy of St. Francis of Assisi consisted of Fr. W.H. Daw, assisted by Fathers P.E. Armstrong and H.L.T. Ford. Also by 1939, St. Claire's Mission Church was established in Hamilton. It was located on 140 Burlington Street East under the supervision of the clergy of St. Francis of Assisi Church. The tiny IACC also had a mission church in Buffalo, New York State, USA, under Deacon John Walker. In July of 1941 Fr. Daw resigned as rector of St. Francis of Assisi Church to become the priest-in-charge of St. Claire's Mission Church. Fr. Armstrong succeeded him as the rector of St. Francis, assisted now by Fathers Ford and James Wall. By April of 1946 Blessed Trinity Parish was established in Hamilton at 75 Young Street with Fr. Daw as its rector. St. Claire's Mission Church then was associated with Blessed Trinity.
Bishop Hampton made no attempt to have the IACC formally become part of the Liberal Catholic Church. This was probably another sore point between him and Liberal Catholic Presiding Bishop the Most Rev. Frank Piggott of London, England. In 1944 Presiding Bishop Piggott deposed Dr. Hampton as the North American Liberal Catholic Regionary Bishop. An open schism developed with court cases being launched in the USA as to who was the legal Liberal Catholic head in North America. Bishop Hampton, being embroiled in defending his episcopal status, found it impractical to continue to offer Fr. Daw and the IACC episcopal oversight.
It was now time for the Independent Anglican Church of Canada to further organise itself with its own bishop. Earlier in the century, another line of Old Catholic bishops had established themselves in North America through the Rt. Rev. Francis Herbert Bacon. Bishop Bacon had been consecrated by British Old Catholic Archbishop, the Most Rev. Arnold Harris Mathew in England in 1911. From 1914 to 1920 Bishop Bacon lived in Canada and the USA where he ordained Anglican priests sub conditione in Old Catholic Holy Orders. These Anglican clerics desired to supplement their ordinations with orders that the Roman Catholic Church might accept as valid. Bishop Bacon consecrated Thomas John Bensley in 1914 who in turn consecrated Arthur Willoughby Henzell in 1915. On 1 March 1946 in St. Mary's Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, a retired PECUSA priest, Fr. Walter Peter Crossman, Ph.D., was consecrated by Bishop Henzell to serve as the first bishop for the IACC. The following month, on 14 April 1946, the first synod of the Independent Anglican Church of Canada was held in Hamilton, Ontario, under Dr. Crossman. St. Francis of Assisi Church was designated as the Pro-Cathedral of the IACC. Canons were enacted and clergy were ordained and appointed to office. Ordained to the priesthood at this synod were Fr. John H.V. Russell, who became the assistant priest at Blessed Trinity Church in Hamilton, Fr. Donald Henry Ross Taylor and Fr. James Edwin Wahl, assistants for the Pro-Cathedral. Fr. Mahoney of St. Mark's Church in Toronto was appointed the first Vicar General of the IACC. The jurisdiction now had the means to carry on and grow.
Biography Sketch of Our First Diocesan Bishop
The Right Reverend Walter Peter Crossman, Ph.D., was born on 8 January 1896 in Springfield, Illinois, USA. He married Margaret Louise Rostek in 1914. In 1923 he graduated from Western Theological Seminary (now known as Seabury-Western Theological Seminary) in Evanston, Illinois. He also received his bachelor of arts degree in 1929 from Lombard College and his Ph.D. in 1940 from the American University in Washington, D.C. Crossman was ordered to the diaconate in May of 1923 by the Rt. Rev. Charles P. Anderson, PECUSA Bishop of Chicago and later that same year (November) he was priested by the Rt. Rev. Sheldon M. Griswold, PECUSA Suffragan Bishop of Chicago. From 1923 to 1926 he was the curate of Trinity Church at Belvidere, Illinois, and from 1926 to 1932 he served as curate at St. Ann's Parish in Chicago. He thereafter served as priest-in-charge of various parishes in the Knoxville, Illinois, district where he came under the jurisdiction of the PECUSA bishop of Quincy. In 1935 he took a leave of absence from the Church to become the Headmaster of the Stratford Military Academy in New Jersey. Fr. Crossman, like many other Anglo-Catholic clergy, felt that the Anglican orders he held were probably invalid in light of the Vatican's Bull of 1896, and sought out a bishop in Old Catholic succession to obtain conditional ordination. On 7 September 1937 he was ordained priest sub conditione by the Rt. Rev. Edmund Walter Sheehan, Auxiliary Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church for the USA. For this action he was deposed from the ministry of PECUSA on 17 February 1938 by the Rt. Rev. William L. Essex, Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy. When the Independent Anglican Church of Canada (IACC) needed a bishop of its own, they turned to Dr. Crossman, who was consecrated to the episcopal bench on 1 March 1946 in St. Mary's Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, by the Rt. Rev. Arthur Willoughby Henzell, who carried the Mathew-Bacon line of Old Catholic Succession. In 1948 the IACC changed its name to that of the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton (OCDH). Bishop Crossman continued on in his position as headmaster of the Stratford Military Academy, travelling to Canada to fulfill his episcopal duties. In 1948 his tenure as headmaster ended and he made preparations to find a successor to his bishopric. After his retirement as diocesan for OCDH, Dr. Crossman was reconciled to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States and from 1949 until his death was a priest in good standing with that Church, serving as a priest in Arizona and California. In 1963 he retired from active ministry. He died in Rancho Cordova, California, on 23 November 1973. He is remembered as a saintly man who encouraged young men to enter the Christian priesthood regardless if it was with the Anglican Communion or with the Independent/Old Catholic Movement. A son of his, the Reverend Walter John Crossman (born 1915), also served as a priest in PECUSA.
A problem developed with incorporation of the jurisdiction as the "Independent Anglican Church of Canada". The Ontario Provincial Government in that era would not register church bodies that used the term 'independent' in its official name. Since Bishop Crossman's consecration was through the Old Catholic Church and since both the English Old Catholics and the Canadian Independent Anglicans used the Anglo-Catholic English Missal (commonly known as the "Knott Missal" after its publishers, W. Knott and Sons Ltd. of England), it was decided at a synod held at Hamilton on 20 March 1948 to call the jurisdiction "The Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton". The Government accepted the change of name and by the 30 July of that year, the Diocese had received its incorporation certificate. In December of 1948, St. Claire's Mission Church closed and its congregation was added to Blessed Trinity Parish.
On 3 October 1948 Fr. George Frank Davis, M.A., was installed as the rector of the Pro-Cathedral, succeeding Fr. H.L.T. Ford in that office. At a synod held on the 26 and 27 March 1949, Fr. Davis was elected Auxiliary Bishop with right of succession as diocesan. Apparently Fr. Daw disagreed with this election result, because both he and Fr. Russell and Blessed Trinity Parish promptly left the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. They joined the Liberal Catholic faction of Bishop Edward Murray Matthews (1898 to 1985). On 2 October 1955, Fr. Daw was consecrated the first bishop of the newly established Liberal Catholic Church of Ontario and for the next thirty years he consecrated other bishops. These men all claim Archbishop Daw as the founder of their respective jurisdictions because each one of them emphasis either the Anglican (Anglo-Catholic tradition), Old Catholic, or Liberal Catholic (non-Theosophical) phases of Daw's church career.
On Sunday, 24 July 1949, Bishop Crossman consecrated in the Pro-Cathedral Fr. Davis as his auxiliary bishop and eventual successor as diocesan (1 October 1949). Dr. Crossman was restored as a priest in the PECUSA and served parishes in Arizona and in California. He died in 1973 at the age of seventy-seven years in Rancho Cordova, California.
The Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton joined the North American Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop Carmel Henry Carfora of Chicago, Illinois, USA on 22 April 1950. Bishop Davis was consecrated sub conditione on that day by one of Archbishop Carfora's bishops, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Francis Michael Donahue, S.T.D. in the Hamilton Pro-Cathedral. (The following day, Dr. Donahue was the guest preacher at the Sunday Mass, his sermon was entitled "The Identifying Marks of Christ's Church".) The Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton quickly became the centre of the NAORCC in Canada.
On the 31 May 1952, the Diocesan Committee requested that Bishop Davis submit his resignation citing a lack of prudence in his general behaviour, failure to keep accurate financial records and a general lack of Apostolic zeal in his administration of the diocese. On resigning, he, as an American citizen, returned to Hinsdale, Illinois to found his own church. He died in 1968.
One result of the deposition of Bishop Davis was that several people left the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. A second result was that the remaining congregation of St. Francis of Assisi could no longer afford to maintain its church building. In 1957 it was sold to the Roman Catholic Church. The last Old Catholic service held in this building was on 22 September 1957 with 26 people attending. Fr. James E. Wall (rector from 1953 to 1957) said the Mass and Fr. Joseph Girard was the preacher. The church was rededicated as St. Boniface German Roman Catholic Church and is still in existence today. Among the clergy serving at St. Francis of Assisi Church between 1934 and 1957 were the following: Fr. William Henry "Harry" Daw, Fr. Samuel Daw, Fr. P.E. Armstrong, Fr. H.L.T. Ford, Fr. James E. Wall, Fr. Donald H.R. Taylor, Fr. George F. Davis, and Fr. Joseph Daniel Girard.
The remaining Hamilton Old Catholic congregation purchased a large house at 118 Stinson Street South. The main level became a chapel dedicated as St. Michael's Priory, with its first Mass being held on 29 September 1957 (the Patronal Feast) with 34 people attending, and the upper level became a rectory and office. St. Michael's Priory served as the Diocese's Pro-Cathedral until 1979 when the building was sold to Dr. J.F. Chithalen, a local dentist, when the parish disbanded due to dwindling membership. The last service was held on 9 September 1979. Clergy at the time of the closing: Bishop Robert Ritchie (rector) and Fathers David C. Thomson, Del Baier, and Thomas D. McCourt (assistants). Fathers Baier and McCourt soonafter joined the Liberal Catholic Church of Ontario. Thereafter, the Hamilton Old Catholics would meet for worship in Bishop Robert Ritchie's home up until Oct. 1997 when Our Lady of Peace independent Anglo-Catholic parish joined the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. In July 1999 that parish left the OCDH and there presently is no OCCC presence in Hamilton.
On 5 July 1960 Bishop Mahoney and his clergy incorporated the OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH OF CANADA under the laws of the Province of Ontario. At a synod of the NAORCC held in Hamilton from 3 to 5 September 1960, the Diocese of Hamilton and other Canadian dioceses was declared an autonomous branch of the NAORCC and were united as an independent national church body in the new corporate body. The Presiding Bishop of the new national jurisdiction was declared to be, ex-officio, the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Hamilton. Besides the Lord Bishop, the new Old Catholic Church of Canada only had four other clergy at its birth. They were Fathers Nelson D. Hillyer and William M. Gourlay, both of Toronto, and Fathers Joseph D. Girard and Robert Ritchie, both of Hamilton.
Biographical Sketch of Our Second Diocesan Bishop
The Right Reverend George Frank Davis, M.A., was born on 18 November 1899 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. In 1923 he was ordered a deacon by the Rt. Rev. M. Edward Fawcett, PECUSA Bishop of Quincy. In 1925 he was priested by the same bishop. During the years 1923 to 1926 he served as a choirmaster and cleric within various charges of the Diocese of Quincy; from 1924 to 1926 he also served as secretary to Bishop Fawcett. Other PECUSA dioceses he served in as a priest, organist and or a choirmaster from 1926 to 1940 include Pennsylvania, Maine, Fond du Lac, Bethlehem, and Harrisburg. On 21 June 1940 he was deposed from the ministry of PECUSA by the Rt. Rev. Wyatt Brown, Bishop of Harrisburg. On 3 October 1948 he was installed as the rector of St. Francis of Assisi Old Catholic Pro-Cathedral in Hamilton, Ontario by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Walter P. Crossman, Lord Bishop of the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. On 24 July 1949 Fr. Davis was consecrated by Dr. Crossman, solo, as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese and continued on as rector of the Pro-Cathedral. On 1 October 1949 he succeeded Bishop Crossman as the Diocese's ordinary. He was consecrated sub conditione on 22 April 1950 by the Rt. Rev. Francis Michael Donahue of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church (NAORCC). In 1953 he was deposed as Bishop of Hamilton when it was discovered he was suffering from a form of kleptomania. He went back to the USA where he organised a very successful ministry in Hinsdale, Illinois. By 1967 he was serving as an bishop in Archbishop Richard A. Marchenna's faction of the NAORCC. He died on 10 October 1968.
Biographical Sketch of Our Third Diocesan Bishop
The Right Reverend Archibald Patrick Mahoney was ordained to minor orders and the diaconate (21 November 1937) and the priesthood (23 November 1937) by Bishop Charles Hampton in Hamilton. He founded and was the priest-in-charge of St. Mark's Independent Anglican Church in Toronto, Ontario. When the first synod of the Independent Anglican Church of Canada was held in Hamilton, Ontario in April of 1946, Fr. Mahoney was chosen as the jurisdiction's first vicar-general. He continued with that office after the name of the church was changed to that of the Old Catholic Diocese of Hamilton in March of 1948. In the early 1950s St. Mark's Parish moved to a different part of Toronto and was re-dedicated as St. Edward's. On 30 May 1953 he was consecrated the diocesan bishop by the Rt. Rev. Zigmunt K. Vipartas of the NAORCC, solo, in St. Francis of Assisi Pro-Cathedral, Hamilton. (Bishop Vipartas was consecrated by Archbishop C.H. Carfora on 15 August 1944 as NAORCC bishop to the Lithuanian community in Westville, Illinois.) He succeeded George F. Davis as the Lord Bishop of Hamilton after Davis' deposition for theft arising out of his kleptomania earlier that month. At a synod of the Canadian units of the NAORCC held in Hamilton during 3 to 5 September 1960, Bishop Mahoney resigned his office as Ordinary of Hamilton. He and his wife, Margaret, moved to North Bay, Ontario, where Mrs. Mahoney worked as a nurse in the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital. St. Edward's Parish closed and was merged with St. Andrew's Old Catholic Church on Pape Ave., Toronto. However, Bishop Mahoney continued to take an interest in the Church, attending a synod held in May of 1961 in Hamilton. By 1964 they had moved back to Toronto and on 25 April of that year the good Bishop died in that city at the age of 73 years. Bishop Mahoney was survived by Mrs. Mahoney and a daughter Mary Lou.
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