London Catholics praise newly ordained Bishop McGrattan

By 
  • January 15, 2010
{mosimage}LONDON, Ont.- It was hard to tell friends, family and supporters apart at Bishop William McGrattan’s Jan. 12 ordination.

Close to 1,000 joyful people, including 150 priests, nearly 35 bishops and archbishops and about 40 relatives, packed St. Peter’s Cathedral in London to give a hug and their congratulations to a long time friend, associate pastor, teacher, seminary leader and now auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Toronto. He is also titular bishop of Furnos Minor.

“It is a privilege to be called  to the episcopacy and to be a successor of the apostles in this Year for Priests,” McGrattan said. “For that I give thanks to God, for this grace of this year and for the grace of this calling in my life and in the church.”

“Most are here because Bill touched their lives,” said Theresa Mikula, McGrattan’s younger sister.

Mikula, who was overcome with emotion during the celebration, said her brother represents all people who want to learn. As the rector of St. Peter’s Seminary for the past 12 years, teaching and learning are things he takes seriously and if he continues that calling in Toronto, she said, he’ll continue helping people become better Catholics.

“He really helped encourage vocations to religious life,” said Fr. Frank O’Connor, a former seminary colleague of McGrattan’s. “He has a remarkable capacity for work and puts that at the service of the church — you are getting a really good man in Toronto.”

The Mass was presided over by London Bishop Ronald Fabbro, the principal consecrator for the ordination. But the homily was given by Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins who spoke about a bishop’s call to love.

“We are called to be lost in the love of the one who sends us,” Collins said.

He said a bishop must reflect on the frailty of the disciples and recognize his own frailties, but must also remember Christ’s greatest query to Peter, the foundation of the church.

“Jesus asked the only question that counts: ‘Do you love me?’ ” Collins said. “We must not be distracted by the storms of life. We must see Jesus walking serenely towards us.”

Chris Pietraszko, a seminarian in his pastoral year of formation, attended the ordination of the new bishop he has come to know during his studies at St. Peter’s.

“It was inspiring just to see the faith of the people and their love and support for (McGrattan),” Pietraszko said. “To see Bishop Bill lay down (during the ordination) makes me want to lay down my life and give all that I can give.”

Msgr. Luca Lorusso, who represented the apostolic nunciature at the ordination, reminded bishops they must lead each other to charity. To be sincere, they should be willing to listen to lay people.

“In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times,” Lorusso said, quoting Pope Benedict XVI.

McGrattan is well known for his work in expanding lay formation and participation in London. Among various ministries developed during his time at St. Peter’s, a new degree program in theology was designed to form lay students who wanted to teach in the Catholic education system.

“He is a very unassuming and humble man,” said Michelle O’Rourke, a lector for the celebration who was formerly a parishioner at St. Joseph’s in Chatham, McGrattan’s first priestly assignment, in 1987. “He is a deeply spiritual man, an honest man who is looking forward to being with the people in the parishes and doing Confirmations and First Communions.”

McGrattan said he was grateful to have London Bishop-emeritus John Sherlock as one of the co-consecrating bishops. Sherlock has now ordained McGrattan to the diaconate, to the priesthood and now to the episcopacy.

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