The following is an excerpt from Citizens with the Saints, authored by Lyman Harding, © 1994 Diocesan Synod of Fredericton.

The Rt. Rev. W.H. Moorhead (1939 - 1956)

Fourth Bishop of Fredericton 1939-1956

The fourth Bishop of Fredericton, the Rt. Rev. W.H. Moorhead was born on April 7, 1882, in Ireland. There he received his early education, and undertook a brief career in business to finance the education needed to answer a long-felt call to the priesthood. On the advice of a close clerical friend, the young Moorhead applied to the Bishop of Quebec and was accepted as a student in the Faculty of Divinity at Bishop's College in Lennoxville, Quebec. He emigrated to Canada in 1906, bringing with him his ample store of Irish wit and wisdom.

At Bishop's, he was a first class student majoring in history; he was granted the Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1911, and went on to do postgraduate work, receiving his M.A. in 1912. Among the honours he received later in life from the academic world were honourary degrees from Bishop's University and the University of King's College.

Following his ordination as deacon in 1911 and priest in 1912, he served as chaplain of the S.P.C.K. in the Province of Quebec and as assistant curate at St. Peter's Church in Sherbrooke. In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, he was gazetted as chaplain to the 117th Eastern Townships Battalion and went to England. In England he was transferred to the 13th Brigade RCA, in which he served in France and later in Germany. In 1919 he was demobilized from the armed services and accepted an appointment as curate at the Church of the Ascension in Montreal. Following this he was elected as rector of Grand Mere, Quebec, where he served until 1927.

Moorhead's history in the Diocese of Fredericton began with his election as rector of St. Paul's Church in the city of Saint John in April 1927. He could not have had any preconception of the effect of this move on the rest of his life. In Saint John he served with distinction until he was invited by Archbishop Richardson to succeed Dean J.H.A. Holmes as Dean of Fredericton and of Christ Church Cathedral in 1936. Stories are still told within the city of Fredericton about his genial approach, his kindness and his impatience with any kind of formality which would set him apart from his people.

On the death of Archbishop Richardson, Dean Moorhead was elected Bishop of Fredericton on December 7, 1938, and was consecrated Bishop in the Church of God on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 25, 1939, by the Rt. Rev. John Cragg Farthing, Bishop of Montreal, and acting Metropolitan of the Province of Canada, assisted by the Bishops of Nova Scotia (Hackenly), Quebec (Carrington), Maine (Brewster), New Hampshire (Dallas) and the Rt. Rev. Lennox Williams, retired Bishop of Quebec.

At the time of his consecration it was already evident that the world was fast moving toward a major conflict. The effects of the Great Depression were still being felt throughout the western world, and in the Province of New Brunswick it was particularly evident that the depression had not yet ceased. It was, therefore, a challenging and difficult time for Moorhead to begin his episcopate. He was obviously the person whom God intended to lead the Church in this part of his vineyard because he possessed the gifts and abilities that enabled the diocese to consolidate and grow in spite of the world-wide conflagration of war and the severe economic situation.

A quick review of the records of the time indicates that when Bishop Moorhead was consecrated, the Diocese of Fredericton was fully staffed with the exception of one parish. At the end of the war there were many vacancies because of his encouragement of priests to minister as military chaplains. To redress the losses in clerical manpower, the Bishop actively recruited young men to train for the ministry and very often put before those serving in the armed forces their duty to prepare for the ministry once peace was restored.

Moorhead had great pastoral gifts. His humility, his wisdom and his sense of humour were always his strong points. In presiding at synod he could guide through very contentious subjects and, when tension was obvious, it was his Irish wit which very often saved the day. Thus put into good humour, the synod almost always accepted his leadership on subjects that could have caused a great deal of contention.

One of Bishop Moorhead's great pastoral concerns was the welfare of his clergy. This was expressed both in his determination to ensure that stipends reached an adequate level and also that clergy families were well cared for. Some of the practical decisions that were made by the synod, at his insistence, were a travelling grant to assist the clergy in the performance of their duties; a system of car loans at very low interest rates; regular review of stipends; upgrading of rectories in practically every parish; division of some parishes so that the people were more adequately cared for; the institution of clergy conferences and training sessions under the leadership of outstanding theologians from Canada and Britain. All of these things helped to create a sense of high diocesan morale and clergy support.

In spite of all these things, throughout his episcopate he was always plagued by a large number of parish vacancies. This caused him great concern; the problem affected not only the Diocese of Fredericton, but the whole Canadian Church. Canada was a favoured recruiting ground for the Episcopal Church in the United States and, throughout his time as bishop, Moorhead was faced with the constant loss of his clerical staff across the border.

The Bishop's pastoral concerns were supported by his considerable administrative ability. Among the achievements for which he must be given credit in the diocese was an emphasis on ministry to youth. He had great 'concern for religious education and constantly urged that Church Schools and Sunday Schools be strengthened. Along with the leaders of other Christian denominations in the province, he made many representations to the Provincial Government, urging that an agreed syllabus of Christian Education be implemented within the educational system. Sad to say, despite his efforts, and those of the Rev. Canon W.E. Hart, this never took place. Support for the Rothesay Collegiate School, Netherwood School for Girls and King's College School in Windsor, was always a concern for him. It was during his episcopate that the Anglican Young People's Association became significant in the Diocese of Fredericton and came to its greatest prominence. The Bishop gave support to the A.Y.P.A. by appointing diocesan chaplains and ensuring that adequate funds were available for their ministry within the diocese.

Typical of Bishop Moorhead's concern for the development of young people was his leadership in establishing the diocesan youth centre, named Camp Medley, to honour the first bishop of the diocese in its centennial year. In the synod which marked the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Fredericton in 1945, Moorhead was insistent that property be acquired and the camp established. The synod agreed in June to purchase the present property of Camp Medley for a sum of $3,000 and by July the first camps were already using the property. Among the innovative approaches which the bishop sponsored was the introduction of the Sunday School by Radio programme in the Diocese of Fredericton, the first such programme in Canada. Begun on December 2, 1945, the programme was maintained on radio stations throughout the diocese well into the 1970's. In 1947 Moorhead was instrumental in bringing Miss Eva Hasell into the diocese with the Sunday School Van programme. When it was decided some years later that the vans were no longer needed, the formidable Miss Hasell, whose work enjoyed royal patronage, warned Archbishop O'Neil, "The Queen Mother will be very upset!" Large numbers of children in the remote areas of the diocese were reached by these efforts.

Another area of concern in which the bishop gave leadership was that of social action—an area in which the approach taken by the Church in the 1940's and 50's was quite different than it is to-day. He gave outstanding leadership in attempting to guide his people, particularly in forbidding gambling of any kind within the Church and in making representations to civil authorities opposing gambling. As well he spoke out strongly in support of the unemployed and the poor.

In the area of administration, the diocese made tremendous strides during the episcopate of William Henry Moorhead. One of his first actions was the establishment of a Synod office in the Church of England Institute, Saint John. The Rev. C. LeRoy Mooers was appointed the first full-time Secretary-Treasurer of the Diocese of Fredericton. Archdeacon Mooers served in that capacity from his appointment to the office in 1939 until his resignation in the late 1960's, when he was succeeded by Mr. H.V. Frear. Between Bishop Moorhead and Archdeacon Mooers the administration of the diocese was put on a firm foundation and the financial support from the parishes increased to such an extent that before long the diocesan budget was being not only met but overpaid. It was this team of bishop and archdeacon which did so much to strengthen the administrative frame work and the financial basis on which the Diocese of Fredericton has rested since that time.

Immediately following the end of the war the Anglican Advance Appeal was launched throughout Canada, with the aim of undergirding the financial basis of the Church and compensating for the loss of support which traditionally had come to many parts of the Canadian Church from England. The quota for the Diocese of Fredericton for this appeal was $157,000. While the diocese did not quite reach that mark, it did raise $147,000 which was considered to be a great achievement at that time.

As both a pastoral and an administrative concern, Moorhead encouraged increased participation by the laity in church life. This resulted in a much larger attendance of lay delegates at Diocesan Synod and the establishment of the Diocesan Lay Readers' Association, which in recent years, under the wardenship of the Rev. Canon J.T. Irvine, has grown into what is regarded as the largest and most active Lay Readers' Association in Canada, and a Diocesan Laymen's Council whose purpose was to support the work of lay men within the parishes and diocese.

An important initiative of the early fifties was the establishment of a diocesan newspaper. Discussions took place at the 1951 Synod which led to the first regular issue of The Diocesan News in October of 1953. The first editor, the Rev. Canon C.J. Markham, long the rector of the parish of Rothesay, served for more than twenty years, and to him belongs much of the credit for this important vehicle of communication within the diocese. Under the second editor, the Rev. Canon E.F. Eaton, the name was changed to The New Brunswick Anglican, and arrangements were made to have it distributed with The Anglican Journal. Canon Eaton was succeeded by the Rev. Tom Corston, and when he left the diocese, Mrs. Ana Watts, the present editor, took charge. A feature of the paper from its inception has been a monthly letter from the bishop.

Bishop Moorhead was blessed in his ministry by the able support of his wife, who often accompanied him on his parish visitations. His two sons served in the armed forces during World War II. Walter, the elder son, lives in Toronto; John, the younger, followed his father's footsteps and was ordained by him He has served in the Military Chaplaincy, the Dioceses of Brandon, and Fredericton, and now lives in Sussex in his retirement.

The bishop's health began to deteriorate in the late 1940's and he came to rely on the active support of his archdeacons, especially the Ven. Edmund Hailstone of Fredericton (rector of St. Stephen) and the Ven. Alban F. Bate of Saint John (rector of St.Paul's). Archbishop H.L. Nutter states that his ordination to the diaconate was taken by the Bishop of Nova Scotia because his own bishop was ill at the time. Nevertheless, Moorhead carried on with great enthusiasm and was able, with the help of Mrs. Moorhead, who acted often as his chauffeur, driving him from parish to parish, to make regular visits for confirmations. It was in 1956, at the age of 75, that William Henry Moorhead submitted his resignation as diocesan bishop to the metropolitan and retired to live for the last few years of his life in Lancaster. On June 27, 1962, Bishop Moorhead died in Saint John and was buried in Fernhill Cemetery. He was remembered always as a warm and gracious person, one who had a great concern for his people and his clergy. In one of the tributes to him he is described as "a man of sterling character, much beloved by his people and remembered for his kindly nature and shrewd wisdom". It was during Moorhead's episcopate that the Diocese of Fredericton was prepared, by his pastoral concern and his provision of administrative structures, for the expanding ministry of the next few decades. As a memorial to Bishop Moorhead, his family and the diocese cooperated in placing new furnishings in the choir of Christ Church Cathedral, which he had served faithfully as dean and bishop.