The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is a dynamic and vibrant diocese located in Saskatchewan, in the heart of Canada's prairie provinces.
Stretching across 44,800 square kilometers from Macklin and Leader in the west, to Kelvington and Wadena in the east, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon includes some 80,000 Catholics served by 95 parishes.
From many backgrounds, speaking a variety of languages, with a range of socio-economic profiles, Catholics in the Roman Diocese of Saskatoon live in both urban and rural settings. There are First Nations and Métis Catholics, many served by the diocese's most-recently created parish, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Saskatoon, and there are newcomers to Canada who connect to their ethnic community when gathering to pray and worship.
In the west are the many parishes of St. Joseph's Colony, established more than a century ago by German-Russian pioneers, and served for many years by Oblate priests.
Around Muenster and Humboldt are parishes established as part of St. Peter's Colony, another German settlement: this one grew up around the Benedictine Abbey established at Muenster.
There are also Francophone communities established in the area of Vonda, Prud'homme and St. Denis. The diocese also includes a wide range of other national groups: Irish, Filipino, Polish, Iraqi, Spanish, Italian, Croatian, Ukrainian, Sudanese, Vietnamese, and others.
There are six deaneries in the diocese: Saskatoon City, Saskatoon Rural, Humboldt, Wadena, Kerrobert and Eatonia. These regional deaneries were developed as a way to facilitate communication, consultation and cooperation across the distances of the diocese. The deanery structure is designed to keep parishes in touch with one another and with the diocese, foster collaboration, resource sharing and problem-solving among parishes in a region, and provide a forum to address regional concerns.
Representatives from each of the deaneries also serve on a Diocesan Pastoral Council, which is set up as an advisory body to help facilitate a two-way communication between the parishes and the bishop. The first Diocesan Pastoral Council held its first meeting on Oct. 9, 1999.
In addition to our diocesan priests, there are a number of religious priests (Basilians, Benedictines, Dominicans, Oblates, VIncentians, and Redemptorists) serving in the diocese of Saskatoon, as well as three permanent deacons, religious brothers, and religious sisters in a variety of orders.
There are also a number of Parish Life Directors, who are lay people or sisters appointed by the bishop to serve with a Priest Moderator as a Parish Pastoral Team. This is one way in which the challenge of fewer priests/ aging priests is being addressed in the diocese. A number of priests from around the world, including Ghana, Nigeria and India, have also been invited in recent years to provide ministry in the diocese. There is also an active vocations promotion office in the diocese, and there are currently a number of seminarians studying for the priesthood.
With increasing numbers of lay pastoral ministers also being hired by parishes and ministry offices in recent years, the Pastoral Association of Lay Ministers (PALM) was recently established to network and address areas of common concern.
Within the boundaries of the diocese, and connected by bonds of faith and cooperation, there are many partner organizations working with the diocese, including Catholic schools, Catholic colleges, Catholic health care facilities and a number of Catholic agencies. Many were established by the religious orders that came to the area years ago to live and serve the people.
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The climate of our Diocese is generally temperate but can turn bitterly cold in the winter, sometimes lower than 40 below Celcius. The cold is moderated somewhat by the dry air. The summer months are relatively short, with temperatures often rising to 27-33 degrees Celcius. A major industry in the diocese is agriculture, with wheat the most common crop on the prairies. Other grains which are also popular include oats, barley, flax and canola. Lumber is also an important industry in the north, and the province is also famous for its rich natural resources such as oil, potash and uranium. The potash mines are largely located within the boundaries of this diocese, and there are oil resources in the west region, near the Alberta border. Uranium deposits are all far north but the industry is served by businesses located here.
Demographically, Saskatchewan includes a diverse mix of peoples with European countries well represented in large groups of Ukrainian, German and Polish communities. Saskatchewan's Native community is comprised of both First Nations and Metis and account for somewhere between six-eight per cent of the provincial population. Increasingly, the province is welcoming newcomers from around the world, benefiting in many ways from this new diversity.
Bishop Gerald Murray, CSsR, who was born in Montreal, pronounced vows as a Redemptorist in 1907 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1910. He was ordained a bishop in 1930 and installed as bishop of Victoria. In December 1933, he was appointed as the first bishop of the newly-formed diocese of Saskatoon
On April 18, 1934, Bishop Murray arrived in Saskatoon from Victoria (in the middle of a raging dust storm) and was formally installed as bishop. He celebrated his first Pontifical High Mass the following day in the newly-elevated St. Paul's Cathedral. After serving as bishop of the Saskatoon diocese for 10 years, he was appointed Coadjutor-Archbishop of Winnipeg.
Born in St. Thomas, Ontario, Philip Pocock was appointed bishop of Saskatoon on April 7, 1944. Ordained a priest in 1930, he was serving on the staff of St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario when he was appointed as shepherd of the Saskatoon diocese. He served as bishop of Saskatoon for seven years until he too was appointed Coadjutor-Archbishop of Winnipeg in 1951, becoming Archbishop in 1952.
Francis Klein, the third bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was born in Sedley, Sask. the eldest of 13 children. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1934 in the Archdiocese of Regina. He was appointed bishop of Saskatoon in February 1952, the first Saskatchewan-born priest to become a bishop. He served as bishop of Saskatoon for almost 15 years, during a time that included the Second Vatican Council, which brought many changes to the liturgy and the Church. He was appointed bishop of Calgary in February 1967 and died suddenly within a year.
James Patrick Mahoney, the fourth bishop of Saskatoon, was born in Saskatoon in 1927 and ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Klein on June 7, 1952. He served at St. Paul's Cathedral, Delisle, Colonsay and Blucher, taught at St. Paul's High School and was the first principal of Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon. He was named bishop of Saskatoon in 1967.
During his 27 years as spiritual leader of Roman Catholics in the Saskatoon diocese, Bishop Mahoney undertook and supported works within the Church and in the larger community involving Catholic education, ecumenism, health care, vocations, the spiritual formation of priests and laity, the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Women's League, the Brazil mission and social justice endeavours. Many diocesan ministries developed during Bishop Mahoney's time as shepherd, including such important developments as the launch of Lay Formation and the establishment of the Bishop's Annual Appeal.
"He was much respected in the Catholic community and beyond and was able to forge important links with people of non-Catholic churches and faiths, as well as with the civic leaders of Saskatoon, many of whom participated in the celebration of his 25th anniversary as bishop in 1992," reports diocesan archivist Margaret Sanche. Bishop Mahoney died March 2, 1995 in Saskatoon.
Born in Vibank, Saskatchewan, James Weisgerber was ordained a priest in Regina on June 1, 1963. In 1990 he was elected General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, a position he held until his ordination as the bishop of Saskatoon in March 1996.
While he was bishop, the boundaries of Saskatchewan's dioceses were redefined, with a newly-amalgamated diocese of Saskatoon coming into existence in September 1998. The diocese of Saskatoon inherited the west part of the former diocese of Gravelbourg, as well as area formerly served by St. Peter's Abbacy of Muenster, and part of the former diocese of Regina. This change of boundaries added some 20,000 Catholics to the diocese of Saskatoon.
James Weisgerber was named Archbishop of Winnipeg by Pope John Paul II in June 2000.
Born May 6, 1953 in Melfort and raised near St. Brieux, Albert LeGatt was ordained a priest in the diocese of Prince Albert in 1983, and appointed Saskatoon's sixth bishop in July 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
During his eight years as bishop of Saskatoon, Bishop LeGatt worked with the diocesan faith community on a number of initiatives, including the establishment of a diocesan Task Force on Marriage to work with a diocesan office of Marriage and Family Life to strengthen and support marriage, as well as a Diocesan Mission Office to create greater awareness, participation and understanding of mission beyond diocesan boundaries. A diocesan office of prison ministry, and of Roman Catholic hospital chaplaincy to two secular city hospitals were also established under LeGatt's leadership.
Bishop LeGatt worked with the diocesan Lay Formation team and representatives from the diocese of Keewatin-LePas and Prince Albert to establish the unique new Aboriginal Catholic Lay Formation program, offered in conjunction with the established diocesan and eparchial program.
As part of a focus on life-long faith formation, LeGatt also restored the Order of Initiation Sacraments in the diocese, with confirmation now celebrated before First Eucharist. Working with the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission, LeGatt also issued a general decree setting pastoral directives for sacramental sharing in particular circumstances between Catholics and baptized Christians of other denominations.
Bishop LeGatt's initiatives also included the launch of a "Rooted in Christ" Diocesan Vision that calls for a focus on six priorities over five years, and a "Uniting in Faith" campaign to build a Cathedral and Catholic Pastoral Centre. A ground-breaking for the new building took place in December 2009 and the building opened in December 2011 and was officially blessed on May 13, 2012.
On July 3, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Albert LeGatt as the Archbishop of St. Boniface, Manitoba and his installation was held Sept. 21, 2009.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Donald Joseph Bolen as the seventh bishop of Saskatoon Dec. 21, 2009 and his Episcopal Ordination was held on the Feast of the Annunciation, Thursday, March 25, 2010 at St. Patrick's Parish in Saskatoon.
Most Rev. Donald Bolen’s tenure as bishop of Saskatoon (2010-2016) included a multitude of initiatives and projects. He came into the diocese just as construction was beginning on a new diocesan Cathedral and Catholic Pastoral Centre, after years of planning and fundraising under the leadership of outgoing Saskatoon Bishop Albert LeGatt.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process to address the painful legacy of the Indian Residential School System and the June 2012 national event that was held in Saskatoon also impacted Bolen’s tenure as bishop.The diocese established a new consultative body, the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation under his leadership. The DCTR includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal representatives. Initiatives of the DCTR have included a pastoral letter and ecumenical event about the issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and the establishment of a day of prayer for reconciliation and healing in the diocese and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. In 2016 a treaty elder series inviting Indigenous elders to come to parishes and talk about their spiritual traditions was also initiated.
The diocese’s consultative structure was revised and refined under Bishop Bolen’s leadership, bringing new energy, direction and discernment to groups such as the Priests Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council. A new salary grid was introduced for parish and ministry employees in the diocese, and the work of the personnel committee now includes annual meetings with priests of the diocese and the invitation for feedback from parish councils.
Dialogue was an ongoing cornerstone of Bolen’s time as bishop: dialogue with other Christians, with members of other faith traditions, with people of good will and the culture at large. Events during his tenure included public inter-faith forums about issues such as "faith in the public sphere" or "peace and terrorism", a public discussion on compassion between the Catholic bishop and a Tibetan Buddhist, and a public conversation on the music of Leonard Cohen by Bishop Bolen and Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsy. A local Evangelical-Catholic dialogue initiated by Bolen in 2009 has produced a joint statement and nurtured many discussions and friendships, while an Ecumenical Formation Program has been established through the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism.
Justice and Peace was an ongoing priority for Bolen, both in the diocese and on the national stage, where he serves as chair of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
After the retirement of long-time volunteer coordinator of Justice and Peace Tony Haynes, as well as a process of restructuring and strategic planning, a full-time coordinator was hired for the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace. Donations – first from the late Rev. Paul Donlevy and family and then from Holy Spirit parish – also led to hiring a half-time staff person to coordinate a new diocesan Office of Migration, created to oversee issues around refugee sponsorship. Persecution of Christians around the world, the scourge of human trafficking, the need to care for the environment, opposing the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia, protecting conscience rights, and promoting the need for palliative care, are among issues addressed in the diocese and beyond during Bolen’s time as bishop.
Other milestones have included the return of diocesan missionaries from Brazil, a re-envisioned Christian Initiation and Catechetics office, the renewal of the diocesan Covenant of Care and sexual abuse policies, the establishment of a Justice and Outreach Year of Formation (JOY) program, and a discernment about ordaining men to the permanent diaconate in the diocese of Saskatoon.
After six years as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Most Rev. Donald Bolen was appointed Archbishop of Regina, with an installation celebration held Oct. 14, 2016.
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