Msgr. Wayne Kirkpatrick has been named as a new auxiliary bishop of Toronto

Kirkpatrick bishop appointment means there's a new lawman in town

  • May 20, 2012

TORONTO - Msgr. Wayne Kirkpatrick is about to join Toronto's team of bishops with the credentials of a lawman. But he's a canon lawyer who has never forgotten that canon law has a purpose.

"Canon law is very pastoral," Kirkpatrick told The Catholic Register  May 18, the day his appointment as auxiliary bishop was announced. "The law of love is supreme. And that's reflected in our canons. The (1983) Code (of Canon Law) is developed from the teachings of the Second Vatican Council."

The 54-year-old Kirkpatrick studied canon law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, taking his licentiate in 1990. His studies in canon law prepared him for work as  judicial vicar, chancellor of the diocese of St. Catharines and his current job as moderator of the St. Catharines' curia.

The administrative work in a diocese is often dreaded as thankless drudgery, but Kirkpatrick believes he's been a pastor and a preacher rather than a paper pusher. As a bishop, he wants to do more of the same.

"The bishop has to be a man of peace and love, who has to deal with difficult areas of life and ministry but in a very compassionate way," he said. "It's that image of being a father and a brother to the people."

Kirkpatrick hasn't been in Toronto much since he completed his Master of Divinity degree at St. Augustine's Seminary and was ordained a priest in 1984. For 28 years of priesthood his life has focussed on St. Catharines — with 14 of those years spent at the Cathedral of St. Catherine.

As he comes to Toronto, Kirkpatrick will bring his experience on the Niagara escarpment with him.

"We have such good people here. That is a big factor for me," he said. "The people have been so good to me over the years in the parishes where I have served. You never forget that. It stays with you."

Among the experiences Kirkpatrick is unlikely to forget are the 17 months he spent as administrator of his diocese when Bishop James Wingle suddenly quit for health reasons in April 2010.

"It's one of those things where you're called upon to provide some leadership. I knew that it was for a time and that there would be a bishop appointed. We're very fortunate to have Bishop (Gerard) Bergie here."

Kirkpatrick was born in St. Catharines in 1957. He studied philosophy at St. Jerome's, the Catholic college federated with the University of Waterloo, earning a BA in 1980. From there he went directly to St. Augustine's. He has been a pastor of various parishes for a total of 17 years, and concurrently a diocesan administrator for 22 years.

Pope John Paul II made him a Prelate of Honour in 1999, giving him the title of Monsignor.

His arrival in Toronto will bring the archdiocese back up to its usual compliment of four auxiliary bishops assisting Cardinal Thomas Collins. Kirkpatrick brings with him "many diverse gifts and a wealth of experience," said Collins in a press release.

The date and venue of his ordination to the episcopate is to be determined.

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