Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas arrives early in Saskatoon - "O Oriens" - St. Peter Canisius, Apostle of the German Counter-Reformation


Pope Benedict XVI today gave the Latin rite Catholics of Saskatoon an early Christmas present, naming Msgr. Donald Bolen, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Balgonie, SK and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Regina as the Seventh Bishop of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, succeeding Most Reverend Albert LeGatt, named Archbishop of Saint-Boniface on July 3rd, 2009.

The personable priest who taught as a sessional lecturer in Religious Studies at Campion College, University of Regina and served at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity from 2001-2008 is deeply committed to ecumenical dialogue, particulary with the Anglican Communion.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams awarded the Cross of Saint Augustine (of Canterbury) to Msgr. Bolen in February 2009; the Archbishop's website reported the award as follows:

"In a private audience at Lambeth Palace the Archbishop paid warm tribute to the theological acumen and spiritual discernment that Monsignor Bolen had put unreservedly at the service of Anglican – Roman Catholic relations during his seven-year assignment to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome.

"He expressed the debt of gratitude owed by the Anglican Communion, the members of the international commissions of the dialogue, and successive Archbishops of Canterbury and their Representatives to the Holy See for his friendship and dedication.

"The Archbishop said, Monsignor Bolen has for many years been far more than an able facilitator of Anglican - Roman Catholic dialogue. He has been a friend and colleague whose deep commitment to the possibilities of ecumenical dialogue and our common witness to the truths of the gospel has been unflagging and inspirational. This award is a small sign of the regard - affectionate and admiring - in which Don is held and a sign of my personal appreciation of his work and friendship in recent years.

"A priest of the Archdiocese of Regina (Saskatchewan, Canada), from 2001—2008 Monsignor Bolen was the Vatican's officer for relations with the Anglican Communion and the World Methodist Council. In this capacity he served as the co-secretary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) and the Joint International Commission for Dialogue Between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church. He also served on the international commission responsible for preparing texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

"He currently holds the Nash Chair in Religion at Campion College, Regina, Saskatchewan, and looks forward to resuming parish ministry in the summer of 2009.

"The Cross of St Augustine was founded by Archbishop Michael Ramsey. It was first awarded by him on February 19, 1965. It is a circular medallion bearing a replica of the eighth-century Cross of Canterbury and on the reverse side is an engraving of the throne of St Augustine in Canterbury Cathedral.

"This cross has historically been awarded to clergy and lay people of other Christian churches who have contributed conspicuously to advancing friendly relations with the Anglican Communion. More recently it has also been given for outstanding service within the Anglican Communion itself."

At the recent CCCB Plenary last October in Cornwall, Msgr. Bolen gave a marvellous overview of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue and the new feature in these conversations brought about by Anglicanorum coetibus, the Pope's gesture of openness to Anglicans who wish to be received corporately into unity with the See of Rome.

Ad multos annos, Your Excellency!

* * * * * *

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."

* * * * * *

St. Peter Kanis, S.J. (Latin: Canisius)

Today's Optional Memorial is of St. Peter Canisius, Priest, Religious and Doctor of the Church

Peter Canisius (Peter Kanis; 1521-1597) is honored as a Doctor of the Church for his heroic defense of Catholicism through teaching, preaching and writing catechisms. He was also one of the giants of the young Society of Jesus, serving as the first provincial of Germany, a post he held for 14 years. A man of great energy, he founded 18 colleges and authored 37 books; his catechisms went through 200 printings in his lifetime alone.

Born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, he studied at the University of Cologne where he earned a master's degree in May 1540. He changed his original plan to remain at the university and study theology when he heard about a newly-founded religious order, the Society of Jesus.

One of its founders was then at Mainz, so Canisius traveled there to meet Father Peter Faber. The Jesuit appreciated Canisius' potential and agreed to lead him through the 30-day retreat known as the Spiritual Exercises. During the second week of the retreat, Canisius made an election to join the Society and Faber accepted him as a novice on his 22nd birthday, May 8, 1543.

Canisius returned to Cologne and finished his studies in theology and then was ordained in 1546. Even before he became a priest, he taught Scripture and published new editions of texts of Cyril of Alexandria and Leo the Great. Then he served as theological consultant to Cardinal Otto Truchess at the Council of Trent before going to Messina, Sicily, to teach in the very first school the Society founded.

In September 1549 Pope Paul III asked him to return to Germany to head an effort to defend the Church against the attacks of reformers. The young Jesuit received the almost impossible mission of halting the defections of Catholics and winning back those who had already left the Church. Canisius first went to Ingolstadt, Germany and established a pattern he would follow elsewhere. He began teaching at the university, but also devoted great efforts to preaching so that he could explain the fundamental truths of Catholic teaching from the pulpit. His work had an immediate impact on Catholics there.

Canisius subsequently taught and preached in Vienna, Prague and Fribourg. He also founded seminaries and colleges. During his time in Vienna Canisius first developed the catechism for which he is most known. Written in Latin, Summary of Christian Doctrine, was published in April 1555 and devoted most of its attention to the theological points of controversy between Catholics and Protestants. Aimed at college students, it was followed by shorter versions for secondary students and for children.

As the first provincial of Germany, Canisius made a huge contribution to Jesuit governance in the region that included Swabia, Bavaria, Austria and Hungary. He visited Jesuit houses, supervised expansion and made the Society of Jesus a leading force in the Counter Reformation. He also took part in ecumenical gatherings such as the one in Regensburg (1556-1557) and returned to the Council of Trent in May 1562.

Canisius lived a full life and died peacefully at age 76 in Fribourg, Switzerland.


  1. Congratulations to Bishop-elect Donald Bolen: a brilliant scholar, a deeply pastoral priest, a true disciple of Jesus, and the best friend anyone could have.

    Ad multos annos, Don!

    Fr. Raymond Lafontaine
    Archdiocese of Montreal

  2. Your Excellency:


    Can you expand on the following:

    Pope Benedict XVI today gave the Latin rite Catholics of Saskatoon an early Christmas present, naming Msgr. Donald Bolen, Pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Balgonie, SK and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Regina as the Seventh Bishop of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, succeeding Most Reverend Albert LeGatt, named Archbishop of Saint-Boniface on July 3rd, 2009.

    Are you saying the FSSP may finally have a chance to root deep in Saskatoon?


  3. Your excellency
    Are your plans for the retired diocesan priests of the diocese the same as the previous bishop?