Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 2, 2007
Northern diocese gets new bishop
Saskatoon priest has already served in Mackenzie-Fort Smith
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"I have enjoyed the beauty of the land and the people when I've been up north before."
Chatlain is also dealing with "some fear and anxiousness" around the significance of the job and challenges that are the part of it.
But he is ready for it. "I've been blessed with the experiences I had with the people of the North and with the aboriginal people in particular and I do look forward to continuing to develop friendships and relationships with the different communities there," he said.
"I also have enjoyed the beauty of the land and the people when I've been up north before."
Chatlain, the current pastor of St. Patrick's Parish in Saskatoon, will be ordained as a bishop Sept. 14 in Yellowknife.
"I'm moving to a big diocese so I'm going to have to pray some more," he said, borrowing the words of an old friend.
Chatlain expects to work with Croteau for a few months before taking over as bishop. "I'm not sure of the time frame of it but Bishop Croteau will mentor me for awhile anyway," he said.
"Bishop Croteau has been a remarkable bishop; someone who's been very generous and very creative."
Croteau could not be reached for comment but Chatlain's current bishop, Albert LeGatt of Saskatoon, told the Prairie Messenger that Chatlain "has shown consistently that he has a place in his heart for native people."
"That will be a huge asset in the North. In the four years he served in Fond-du-Lac and Black Lake, he was very much appreciated and loved as a pastor."
LeGatt recalled a story Chatlain once told him of an encounter with an elderly parishioner in the North, who came up to him and asked "Fr. Murray, are you going to grow old with us?"
When Chatlain related the story, it was obvious that it "touched his very heart," the bishop said. "Well now, he is going to grow old with them, as their bishop and chief shepherd. That is a huge blessing."
Chatlain was born in Saskatoon Jan. 19, 1963, the oldest of four children. While attending Holy Cross High School, the priesthood bug started to bite. He completed a degree in philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan and then entered St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ont.
"But I think I didn't go into the priesthood with a great burning desire," he recalled. "I've always been a person that prays quite a bit and I've always been very close to God and I just wanted to be a good Christian."
Chatlain grew up in Holy Spirit Parish in Saskatoon, where he served as an altar boy and a reader for many years. Nevertheless, the priesthood seemed remote, even after he entered the seminary.
"I went to the seminary actually a little bit reluctantly," he recalled. "It was a gift for me in terms of the studies and the fellowship. But I was kind of hoping that I could be like many of the others who attended seminary for awhile and then went on to something normal.
"Yet the call remained and I responded to it and I made an active choice to trust God and to be ordained."
Chatlain was ordained a priest May 15, 1987. "There have been a lot of challenges, a lot of work in those 20 years," he said. "It's been rich so I have a multitude of blessings, friendships and experiences."
Following his ordination, Chatlain served in a number of parishes in Saskatoon for 14 years. He then served as pastor of Black Lake, Fond-du-Lac, Stony Rapids, Uranium City and Camsell Portage - all in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. He has been pastor of the 1,200-family parish of St. Patrick's for about a year.
"I love sports," he said. "I love playing hockey and basketball and tennis or any sport that I can get near." He also reads a lot in an effort to keep up with developments in the Church and the world.
"Personality wise, I guess I enjoy challenges and adventure and so certainly I think this next move will involve some challenge and adventure. I too was wondering if I was a little bit young to be a bishop but Bishop Croteau said that the travelling demands of that diocese requires a person in very good health."
Is Chatlain going to continue to play sports in the North?
"I hope so. I think physical activity is a great thing to keep the mind sharp and everything else and so I hope to continue with different physical activity," he said.
The Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese, with a Catholic population of nearly 20,000 in 40 parishes and missions, is the largest diocese in geographical area in the world. It is served by three diocesan priests, four religious priests, two permanent deacons, 15 religious brothers and sisters, and 16 pastoral workers.
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