Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 16, 2007
Pembroke gets quick replacement for Smith
New bishop grateful for studies in philosophy
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Msgr. Michael Mulhall has been appointed as the new bishop for Pembroke, Ont., by Pope Benedict.
The 45-year-old bishop-elect, who has been serving as vicar general of the Peterborough, Ont., Diocese since 2004, is grateful for the grounding in philosophy he gained prior to his theological studies in Rome.
"The essential questions of the human mind and human heart are formed in philosophical ideas but find their answer in Christ, who is the Truth," he said in a telephone interview.
His appointment was announced June 30. The diocese has been vacant since mid-April when Archbishop Richard Smith left to take up his appointment in Edmonton.
Mulhall grew up in Peterborough, a city about an hour's drive from Toronto. He earned a philosophy degree at Trent University there before going to Rome to study theology at the Angelicum and Augustinium universities.
The training in philosophy helped him understand the history of human thought, and realize fundamental human questions that are relevant today have been shared by previous generations.
These questions: "From where have we come? Where are we going? And for what reason are we here?" have a universal significance for every age, he said.
"These philosophical questions are about truth and become a vehicle for human hearts in their search for Christ.
"Philosophy gives us an important foundation for the way we think and interact with people," he said.
Mulhall always knew he wanted to be a priest.
The second youngest of five children, he credits the influence of his priest uncle, Father John Hickey, his "very devout" Catholic family, and the example of the cathedral parish's many good pastors.
Worked at Vatican
After further studies in Rome following ordination, he served at a parish in Huntsville, Ont., then returned to Rome to serve at the Congregation for Oriental Churches for eight years.
He returned to Canada in 2002 and worked in pastoral ministry in Huntsville and Hastings before becoming vicar general in Peterborough.
Mulhall said he knows little about the Pembroke Diocese.
"It's a humbling experience to have received these responsibilities from the holy father and all the blessings and prayers of so many priests and the faithful that I've known," he said.
His ordination and installation will take place in the fall, though a date has not been set.