SASKATOON — Pope Francis has named Rev. Jon Hansen, CSsR, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
Presently serving as pastor of Our Lady of Victory parish in Inuvik, NWT, and in the missions at Tsiigehtchic, Tuktoyaktuk, and Paulatuk — all in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith — the Redemptorist priest is also well-known in Saskatoon, where he served for six years as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in the core neighbourhood.
“I am very grateful to Pope Francis for this unique opportunity to continue serving the church of Northern Canada. It is a place that I feel at home and is filled with people that I love,” said Hansen.
“Though the call of the North was strong, the hardest part of going was saying goodbye to St. Mary’s Parish and the wonderful Diocese of Saskatoon. It was there that I first became a pastor and it was there that I met so many faith-filled people that I still call friends. In the end I decided not to leave them behind but, instead, carry them with me in my heart,” Hansen added.
The installation and ordination of the new bishop will be held March 16, 2018, in Yellowknife, N.W.T. Hansen succeeds Bishop Mark Hagemoen.
Hagemoen — who was installed Nov. 23 as the seventh bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon while continuing to serve as the apostolic administrator of Mackenzie-Fort Smith — greeted the Dec. 15 announcement of Hansen’s appointment with joy.
“With gratitude and excitement, we welcome the news of the appointment of Bishop-elect Jon Hansen as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith,” he said.
Hansen first came to serve in the northern diocese while Hagemoen was bishop.
“In the short time that Bishop-elect Hansen has been in the north, he has demonstrated a pastor’s heart that guides everything he does,” said Hagemoen. “Hansen is also a capable administrator, which he has demonstrated in the parish and Arctic region, and as he has facilitated ministry and restoration projects in the resource-challenged region.”
He added: “We are all grateful to the Holy Father for providing a new shepherd for the diocese — a man with such a shepherd’s way and the right gifts to pastor the Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese.”
Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina said Hansen’s appointment will be a blessing for the people of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
“It was a privilege to work closely with Father Jon when he was serving as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Saskatoon,” said Bolen, former Saskatoon bishop. “During part of that time, Father Jon also served as vice-chair of the Council of Priests. He was a great pastor, ready to accompany people, like a good shepherd.”
Bolen noted that during his time in Saskatoon, Hansen was also involved in the diocese’s reconciliation work with indigenous peoples, and with justice outreach in the neighbourhood of St. Mary’s Parish.
Rev. Mark Miller, CSsR, expressed the support and prayers of the Redemptorist community: “With the help and support of his Redemptorist confrères, Father Jon Hansen discerned several years ago a call to serve God’s people in the far north. He prepared well for the new assignment — in Inuvik — where he has been stationed for over two years. It is obvious that he has found his home.”
Rev. Ciro Alfonso Perez, CSsR, present pastor at St. Mary’s, reflected on the appointment of Hansen, with whom he served in Saskatoon. “Father Jon was pastor at St. Mary’s for six years and left a strong imprint in the parish and the Diocese of Saskatoon. Anyone who heard him as a homilist, or who read his journal in the Prairie Messenger since he became pastor of Inuvik; anyone who followed his reflections on the north and his photo gallery will immediately see some of the gifts he shared with us,” said Perez.
“More importantly, anyone who sought his counsel when feeling overwhelmed or without hope; anyone who experienced his pastoral presence, his care and compassion when in need, will know Father Jon will bring a real gift to the new role to which he is called. We also recognize in Father Jon someone who was very purposeful, diligent and faithful in seeking to know and follow God’s call in his life.”
Hansen was born in 1967 in Edmonton and raised in Grande Prairie, Alta. After high school he attended the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and completed a diploma in construction engineering. Returning for further studies, he completed a BA at the University of Alberta.
He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), professing religious vows in 1998. He then studied at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, where he graduated with a master’s of divinity in 2003. After a diaconal appointment in Sudbury, he was ordained to the priesthood in Grande Prairie on April 24, 2004, by Archbishop Arthé Guimond of the Diocese of Grouard-McLennan.
Subsequently, Hansen served as associate pastor in Redemptorist parishes in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in Toronto, where he was the director of “Out of the Cold,” a program that provides food and shelter to the homeless in the inner city. In 2007 he became the director of formation for Redemptorist students.
In 2009 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Saskatoon. During his six years there, Hansen served on the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation and the Council of Priests, as well as working with the diocesan Office of Migration and the Office of Justice and Peace. In 2015 he was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Inuvik.
The Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith has 32 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 20,110 served by three diocesan priests, four priests who are members of institutes of consecrated life, five religious sisters who are members of religious institutes, as well as 18 lay pastoral workers.