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Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Leary

Henry Joseph O’Leary was born in Richibouctou, New Brunswick, on March 13, 1879. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1901. Within 12 years he became the Bishop of Charlottetown, P.E.I. Seven years later he was on his way to Edmonton, and on September 07, 1920, Henry Joseph O’Leary became the second Archbishop of Edmonton.

One of O’Leary’s first major acts was the establishment of the Western Catholic in 1921, an Archdiocesan newspaper. Its mandate called for the weekly to report on religious news and to assist people to better understand church teaching. Under his leadership the construction of a new cathedral began on 113 Street and Jasper Avenue in 1924, which would unfortunately not be completed in his life time. In addition, he also oversaw the establishment of St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1927. Archbishop O’Leary’s planning and industrialist zeal earned him the nickname of ‘the Builder.

The Bishop's Coat of Arms


Heraldry originated about a thousand years ago in Europe, where it was used by the warrior classes as a means of differentiating combatants on the field of battle. As Europe developed and the feudal warrior class disappeared, the practice of identifying one's possessions with personal emblems flourished. Ecclesiastical heraldry grew out of this practice, initially to differentiate between the various degrees of the clerical estate. The Pope and most bishops adopt a personal coat of arms, which today is used primarily to identify communications from their particular office.


The gold star on a blue background stands for Mary, Star of the Sea. The coronet is in remembrance of this episcopal consecration which made him a Prince of the Church.  The gold lion on a green background designates his Irish ancestry. The Sacred Heart of Jesus stands for Sacred Heart Parish in Bathurst, N.B. where he was Rector (1907-1913) before being appointed Bishop of Charlottetown. The maritime scene depicts Prince Edward Island where he served as Bishop (1913-1920). The high mountains and the fields of golden wheat stand for Alberta, the civil province in which his ecclesiastical province is located.


ITER PARA TUTUM – (Guide us onward on the right path)

Taken from the Church Hymn “Ave Maris Stella”.