Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 3, 2000
N. Alberta Catholics await new bishops
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Catholics in the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese have been waiting for more than a year and a half for their new archbishop. And there's still no idea when the appointment will be announced.
Likewise, in Alberta's other northern diocese - St. Paul - it's been more than a year since then-Bishop Thomas Collins was moved to Edmonton.
Grouard-McLennan has been without a bishop since Archbishop Henri Goudreault died in July 1998. Archdiocesan administrator Father Arth‚ Guimond says he doesn't know when a new bishop will be named.
"I have reason to believe the documentation has gone to Rome, but how long that will take only God knows, I don't," he said March 27. "So we have to be patient."
Rumours about his diocese becoming part of the Edmonton Archdiocese are just that - rumours, he said. "I'm not aware of any decision having been made (on this issue)."
Being without a bishop for so long is "the most trying thing because we don't know what's going to happen from one month to the next," lamented Guimond.
"People ask me when a bishop will be appointed and there isn't much that I can tell them, except that I hope it will happen very soon."
As an administrator Guimond can make day-to-day decisions concerning the operation of the diocese but "the rule of thumb is not to make any decisions that would be prejudicial for the bishop that's expected to come."
Since he's been an administrator for more than a year he can assign priests to various tasks but he cannot ordain priests. Regulations also prevent administrators from organizing archdiocesan synods.
Under these conditions, "it's very hard to do any long-range planning," Guimond said. "So (being an administrator), it's more like marking time."
Father Walter Laliberty, administrator of the St. Paul Diocese for the past year, doesn't know when a new bishop for his diocese will be appointed. "We would not be privy to that type of information," he told the WCR.
But Laliberty did explain what happens when there is no bishop in a diocese.
"When you have the absence of a bishop you don't have any development of new programs, of new policies and so you are in a little bit of a stalemate in the sense that you cannot grow as dramatically as you would want to as a Church," he said.
"And so there is this type of drawback but it's normal that in the life of a particular diocese that from time to time they would live without a bishop. And it shouldn't be that traumatic or that shocking to the people; they should be a people prepared to wait until a new bishop arrives, whenever that would happen."
According to Laliberty, "there are no talks going on for a merger" between St. Paul and Edmonton or St. Paul and Grouard-McLennan.
He said St. Paul is a viable diocese that has the means to continue to operate on its own. "I have no problem with it existing as it is."