Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 5, 2007
Seasoned priest will be administrator
Msgr. John Hamilton will guide Edmonton Archdiocese until a new archbishop is installed
Msgr. John Hamilton
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The consultors of the Edmonton Archdiocese have chosen an experienced priest to serve as administrator of the Edmonton Archdiocese.
Msgr. John Hamilton, the pastor of Sherwood Park and vicar general of the archdiocese, will serve as administrator until the Vatican appoints a new archbishop to replace Archbishop Thomas Collins, the newly installed archbishop of Toronto.
Confidence of peers
"It's very gratifying to know that you have the support of your peers and that they have this kind of confidence in your ability to take on this kind of a position," Hamilton said Jan. 29 from Toronto, where he was to attend Collins' installation. "I'm very honoured."
A member of the team of consultors himself, Hamilton was present Jan. 26 when the consultors picked him for the position.
"It's a little overwhelming, actually," he quipped. "After the meeting (of the consultors) on Friday morning I sat down with the archbishop's secretary (Rita Strauss) to look at the schedule of events that I have to take on and it's a little daunting, I have to admit."
As administrator of the archdiocese, "I guess I'm just to keep things under control in a sense; to make the day-to-day decisions on any matters that come up," Hamilton explained. "I'm restricted, of course, as to what I can or cannot do, but basically I have all the powers of the archbishop until a new bishop is named."
Stay the course
Understandably he has no plans at this early stage. "I can't make any plans really because I don't have the authority to carry out all kinds of new initiatives. It's just a matter of keeping everything going smoothly until a new man takes over."
He'll be doing "some" Confirmations depending on his schedule. "I have other duties as well, of course. I'm pastor in Sherwood Park and I still retain all the duties there so I'm almost certain that some of the Confirmations will be given over to Archbishop (Joseph) MacNeil, who has indicated a willingness to help out. But I'll be doing some Confirmations, of course."
Hamilton, 68, said if there is a situation where both he and MacNeil are busy and can't do a Confirmation then they will delegate the pastors to do them.
He said his main concern with his new position is finding the time to do all the things that are required.
"So trying to balance the two schedules-archdiocesan administrator and parish pastor-I think is going to be the biggest problem.
"But there is a lot of support and the consultors have indicated that they would support me and Archbishop MacNeil has indicated his support so I'm sure we will be able to get through this alright."
How long will Hamilton serve as administrator? "We don't know that. It could be a couple of weeks. It could be a couple of months. It could be even longer," he replied.
"My own feeling is that it won't be too long. I suspect that within a month or two they'll be naming a successor and then it'll be another month or two before the man is installed. So roughly four months or so. I don't know. It could be quicker. It could be longer."
Hamilton is a seasoned priest who has served in many positions-including pastor, archdiocesan chancellor and vicar general-in his 45 years as a priest.
Born in Montreal, Hamilton studied at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He later moved to Edmonton and resumed his studies at St. Joseph Seminary. He was ordained in 1962 and served at St. Andrew's Parish and St. Joseph's Cathedral before joining the Edmonton Catholic school board as a teacher.
In 1973, he became pastor of St. Edmund's Parish and five years later he was named archdiocesan chancellor, a position in which he would serve for the next 15 years. In between, he also served as the founding pastor Good Shepherd Parish.
Served in Red Deer
Hamilton moved to Red Deer in 1993 to serve as episcopal vicar for the area and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. He returned to Edmonton in 1996 and served four years at St. Matthew's Parish. He became pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sherwood Park in 2000.
Hamilton became vicar general of the archdiocese in February 2005, following the death of Msgr. Don MacDonald. Collins had asked the priests of the archdiocese to suggest names of priests they thought would be suitable candidates for vicar general and they suggested Hamilton.