Pope sends Bolen home to Regina

Then-Bishop Donald Bolen and Anglican Bishop Linda Nicholls lead a 2014 prayer service in Toronto marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism.

CATHOLIC REGISTER PHOTO

Then-Bishop Donald Bolen and Anglican Bishop Linda Nicholls lead a 2014 prayer service in Toronto marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism.

July 25, 2016
KIPLY LUKAN YAWORSKI
PRAIRIE MESSENGER

After six years as bishop of Saskatoon, Donald Bolen was appointed archbishop of Regina July 11 by Pope Francis.

The archdiocese has been without a bishop since the Jan. 15 death of Archbishop Daniel Bohan.

Bolen will continue to serve as apostolic administrator in Saskatoon until his installation as archbishop of Regina this fall; the date has not yet been set.

"Serving in the Diocese of Saskatoon has been one of the great joys and privileges of my life," said Bolen, describing the mixed emotions that the appointment brings.

"To be moved from the Diocese of Saskatoon is painful, because it has been such a grace-filled experience to live and to serve here as bishop.

"But, at the same time, to move to the Archdiocese of Regina is to go home. I am profoundly grateful to remain in my home province."

Bolen was born Feb. 7, 1961 in Gravelbourg and raised on a nearby farm. He was ordained by Archbishop Charles Halpin Oct. 12, 1991 in Regina, and served at a number of parishes in the archdiocese, as well as being a faculty member in the religious studies department at Campion College, University of Regina.

Bolen spent seven years (2001-08) working at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, before returning to Regina, where he served as vicar general for the archdiocese and chair of the Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission.

He now serves as co-chair of the Canadian Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Dialogue and has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 2012. He is also a member of several international inter-church commissions for ecumenical dialogue.

In November 2008, Bolen was awarded the Cross of St Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his service in relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Bolen was also a speaker at the Edmonton Archdiocese's Nothing More Beautiful series in 2012 where he spoke about the sacraments.

His episcopal motto is "Mercy within Mercy within Mercy," taken from a book by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton.

The Regina Archdiocese has 145 parishes and missions and a Catholic population of 126,980, served by 79 diocesan priests, 19 priests who are members of institutes of consecrated life, three permanent deacons and 67 religious sisters and brothers.

Bolen's first words about his new appointment were words of gratitude for his time as bishop of Saskatoon.

"Because of the dedication, faithfulness and wisdom of the Catholic Pastoral Centre staff, the clergy, religious, and faithful of the Diocese of Saskatoon, this has been a powerful experience for me of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church," he said.

Bolen is looking forward to building new relationships in the Archdiocese of Regina and renewing cherished connections.

"When I think about returning to Regina, I recall with joy that Archbishop James Weisgerber has retired there – he was my pastor and then my spiritual director before entering the seminary, and has been a mentor throughout my adult life."

Archbishop Donald Bolen served as bishop of Saskatoon for 6 years.

PRAIRIE MESSENGER PHOTO | TIM YAWORSKI

Archbishop Donald Bolen served as bishop of Saskatoon for 6 years.

Bolen also expressed his gratitude for generations of fine leadership in both dioceses that has created vibrant and healthy faith communities.

"Like Saskatoon, Regina also has a strong commitment to lay formation, and to collaboration between lay leadership and clergy, to justice and to proclaiming the Gospel."

Bolen's tenure as bishop of Saskatoon has included a multitude of initiatives and projects. He came into the diocese just as construction was beginning on a new cathedral and Catholic Pastoral Centre, after years of planning and fundraising.

HEALING AND RECONCILIATION

"When we opened the cathedral we expressed the hope that it would be a place of welcome, but also a place of healing and reconciliation, and I think it has become just that," he said.

Bolen pointed to a Holocaust memorial service for 2,400 students in Saskatoon and the installation of a treaty plaque at the cathedral as highlights of his tenure.

The plaque demonstrated "how important it is that we walk together with indigenous peoples, genuinely and humbly seeking reconciliation and healing," he said.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Saskatoon in June 2012 was also a significant event during Bolen's tenure there.

A long-standing diocesan commitment to walking with indigenous people received a "significant push" as a result of the TRC, he said.

"Thanks to exceptional leadership from within the indigenous community, our Church has taken significant steps and is now clearly on a journey to a new way of living together in a healthy relationship grounded on truth and justice."

CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER

Dialogue has been a cornerstone of Bolen's time as bishop.

"At a time when Pope Francis called for a culture of encounter and said what was most needed in our world was 'dialogue, dialogue, dialogue,' we were able to foster dialogue on many fronts," he said.

Justice and peace have been ongoing priorities for Bolen, both in the diocese and on the national stage, where he serves as chair of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"One very moving experience has been the privilege of ordaining eight new priests," he added. "There's a great joy is seeing young priests thriving in their ministry and committing themselves with dedication to the people of God."

Bolen said he longs to see more effort put into finding a way to speak faith to new generations and to sharing the beauty of the Gospel.

"There is so much more to be done. Our Church is being summoned by young people today to greater compassion and greater integrity in the way we live and preach the Gospel."