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New archbishop of Regina reflects on his service in Saskatoon diocese, and looks ahead

07/13/2016

Dear members of the clergy, religious communities, and faithful of the Diocese of Saskatoon and the Archdiocese of Regina,

Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ.

By now you will have received the news that I have been appointed by Pope Francis as the archbishop of Regina. I write this note with many and conflicting emotions, held together by a deep and abiding trust in God’s mercy and faithfulness.

Serving with you in the Diocese of Saskatoon these past six-plus years has been one of the great joys and privileges of my life. Under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI then of Pope Francis, together we have sought to address pastoral challenges within our parishes and communities.

With an exceptional team of clergy and lay leadership, we have sought to be a church that in our parishes and outreach proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ, trying to live the Gospel with integrity, mindful always of the mercy of God at the source of our calling. We have striven to be a church in dialogue with our culture, with other Christian communities and with adherents of other religious traditions, always open to working together at the service of God’s merciful designs for humanity.

We have sought to be a church seeking justice, engaging in issues of the day, addressing systemic injustice, and showing special concern for those on the margins of our society. While our efforts have been shaped by our own limitations and failings, we have felt and seen significant signs of the Holy Spirit at work in our midst.

The years I have served in Saskatoon have coincided with the Truth and Reconciliation process addressing the painful legacy of the Indian residential schools. As a people, we need to learn to tell the story of our land differently. As church, we are learning anew to walk together with Indigenous peoples. Through a series of initiatives, we have set out with energy on this walk, with the support and guidance of many Indigenous friends. I hope and pray that these efforts and this learning will continue.

The date for the transition to Regina has not yet been set. As of July 11, I am the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Saskatoon, with the authority of a diocesan bishop. Upon my installation as archbishop of Regina, it is to be anticipated that the College of Consultors in the Diocese of Saskatoon will be asked to meet and elect a diocesan administrator who will work with others to lead and guide the diocese until a new bishop is named.

I have every confidence that the Holy Spirit, who has been leading us these past years, will continue to be at work in the fine and gifted lay faithful, religious, and clergy of the diocese. Thank you for your faith, wisdom and generosity, which have made it such a joy to minister alongside you these past years. You remain in my heart and I assure you of my ongoing prayers and, in turn, ask your prayers for all that lies ahead.

To the clergy, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of Regina, I promise to try to serve you well, by the grace of God, and very much look forward to working with you at the service of the Kingdom.

Returning to Regina means coming home to the place where I grew up (then in the Diocese of Gravelbourg), where I was educated (many years at Campion College) and where many of my family members and friends still reside. I was ordained a priest by Archbishop Charles Halpin, blessed by Archbishop Peter Mallon’s willingness to have me spend years working at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, and had the privilege of serving (briefly) as vicar-general of the archdiocese then as fellow bishop alongside Archbishop Daniel Bohan. Many of my teachers in the faith, spiritual guides and mentors in life have been from among the clergy and faithful of the archdiocese.

There is a great legacy within the archdiocese of strong parish communities, evangelization, dialogue, collaboration between all the People of God, and the pursuit of justice. It is a privilege to serve in a new way, alongside all of you, as we strive to be faithful to the Gospel and respond to the world in its needs.

I am also mindful that many things have changed in the archdiocese in my years away from it, and that my knowledge of its parishes and people is very limited. There is a steep learning curve ahead and I ask in advance for your patience, and especially for your prayers.

It is my hope to keep as episcopal motto the phrase from Thomas Merton which speaks eloquently the name of God: “mercy within mercy within mercy.” May we jointly be held by and draw life from that great font of mercy and daily show it to others and to the world.

Yours in the Risen Lord,

+Donald Bolen
Apostolic sdministrator, Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon