ST. PAUL, Alta – The Diocese of St. Paul has a new bishop and his episcopal ordination was an event of great joy as hundreds came together to mark a milestone.
“I feel overwhelmed in the best way,” said Bishop Gary Franken, who was ordained as a bishop Dec. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Paul. “There were points throughout the ordination ceremony where it was beautiful, I felt lifted up by the prayers of everyone gathered and of all the saints. . . so I’m thinking to myself ‘Ok God, with all this outpouring of grace, you’re going to keep me going as you wish and I say yes!’”
Crystal Dean, a long-time resident of St. Paul and a lifelong Catholic shared that “the fact that our new Bishop is part of a long line of successors to the apostles brings my heart much joy and hope. The Catholic Church has withstood the test of time as Christ himself promised that the ‘gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church.’
“Bishop Franken comes across as a humble man with a heart for the people and his clergy. . . I trust that the wisdom he has been given from the Holy Spirit through his episcopal ordination will guide his decision-making. God never fails to equip. I am happy to welcome Bishop Franken to our diocese and our family will be praying for him!”
Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith was the consecrating bishop, along with Bishop-Emeritus Paul Terrio who is retiring and Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller. Bishop Franken is the former vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Dozens of other Canadian bishops were also in attendance, including the Papal Nuncio for Canada, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, and Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto, who previously served as the Bishop of St. Paul from 1997 to 1999.
Cardinal Collins offered a homily that spoke poignantly of the call on bishops to live self-sacrificially for the sake of their flock, just as Christ sacrificed himself for humanity.
He shared the story of St. John Fisher, a bishop in 1500s England who was martyred for the sake of defending the Church’s teachings against the defiant monarch, Henry VIII. Cardinal Collins commended Bishop Franken for his commitment to being willing to “bring Christ forth to a increasingly hostile world,” with the same strength of spirit.
Archbishop Smith of the Edmonton Archdiocese was the bishop to lead the “laying on of hands,” the part in the ordination liturgy that signifies the conferring of the Holy Spirit to Bishop Franken, as he is elevated to the apostolic position of bishop.
The Diocese of St. Paul has a long and rich heritage of Metis and Indigenous peoples, which was honored by the first reading in the liturgy being proclaimed in Cree.
Bishop Franken’s ordination also coincided with the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is revered as the Mother of Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. At the base of Our Lady’s image at the St. Paul Cathedral there was a bouquet of flowers to honour her feast and the bouquet also included a letter filled with messages of love and congratulations to Bishop Franken from his friends and parishioners from his home diocese of Vancouver.
The ordination concluded with Bishop Franken seated in the cathedra chair, which signifies his authority as bishop, as he was welcomed by his new community, the congregation and the embrace of each of his brother bishops.
Rev. Paul Moret, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove, attended St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ont. with Bishop Franken in the late 1980s.
“I was very enthusiastic about it, when I heard that he was appointed as the Bishop of St. Paul, because of course I knew him from seminary,” Father Moret said. “His pastoral and administrative skills that’s he’s obviously demonstrated through his years of priestly ministry, suit him well for the role of a Bishop.”
While Bishop Franken is being warmly welcomed into St. Paul, he will also be greatly missed by the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Archbishop Michael Miller said.
“I thought it was a blessed event and St. Paul has a terrific bishop! Bishop Franken was a wonderful pastor and vicar general in Vancouver and he will do splendidly as a bishop.”
Listen to Bishop Gary Franken’s discussion about “bishop school” and the challenges of being a new bishop on Upfront With The Archbishop, the podcast produced by the Archdiocese of Edmonton.
Read an in-depth story from the B.C. Catholic on Bishop Franken.
Watch the full livestream of Bishop Gary’s episcopal ordination at the St. Paul Cathedral:
Jenny Connelly – Archdiocese of Edmonton