With sadness at the loss, and with joy for a life filled with love and justice, we share with you that Janet Somerville, Past General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches (1997-2002), breathed her last on Sunday morning, April 16, 2023. We have lost a giant in the Canadian ecumenical movement. The first woman and the first Roman Catholic General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches, she embodied and pointed the way to the new pathway of faith, witness, justice, and peace grounded in the broader ecumenical movement of Anglican-Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions.
An attentive listener, Janet had an extraordinary ability to be personal, to speak with integrity and authenticity, and yet come gently to the heart of an issue in a potent and powerful way. She is beloved for her elegant way with words, her personal journalistic storytelling, and her genuine passion for justice.
As noted by the Governor General when she became a Member of the Order of Canada for her many accomplishments and contributions to Canadian civic life,
For decades, Janet Somerville has been an advocate for interfaith understanding, human rights and peace. Whether as a journalist,activist or teacher, she has provided a consistent example of faith in action. She was the first producer of CBC radio’s Ideas and associate editor of the independent faith and justice-oriented newspaper Catholic New Times. In 1997, she was appointed General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, the first woman and first Roman Catholic to hold this position. Described as a gracious yet forceful leader, she helped create a model of ecumenism admired worldwide and continues to be a strong voice on global social issues.
Visitation and Funeral
A visitation for Janet will be held Friday, April 21, 2023 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home & Chapel, 467 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON M4X1K5. A funeral mass will occur Saturday, April 22, 2023 from 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM at Our lady of Lourdes, 520 Sherbourne St, Toronto, ON M4X1K8. A visitation will occur Saturday, April 22, 2023 from 2:00 PM to 2:45 PM, 467 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON M4X1K5.