Toronto's Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan (centre), who becomes bishop of Peterborough on June 23, celebrated his own farewell Mass at St. Paul's Basilica on June 20. Photo by Evan Boudreau

With a heart for the people McGrattan goes to Peterborough

  • June 19, 2014

TORONTO – The Archdiocese of Toronto wished Auxiliary Bishop William McGrattan a formal farewell with a mid-afternoon Mass, Friday, June 20 at St. Paul's Basilica.

“As you leave us to take up your new mission as the spiritual father of the people of the Diocese of Peterborough you go with our prayers, our thanksgiving, our love and our deep appreciation for your ministry and service amongst us as a bishop of God's people here in the archdiocese,” said Cardinal Thomas Collins in his homily. “We pray for God's blessing for him as he undertakes the glorious mission which has been entrusted to him.”

About 150 people filled the pews, with at least 35 clergy among them.

Pope Francis appointed McGrattan to replace Peterborough Bishop Nicolas De Angelis April 8. The affable Italian bishop turned 75, the official age of retirement for Roman Catholic bishops, in January. De Angelis became bishop of Peterborough on Dec. 28, 2002.

“I am humbled by the confidence entrusted to me by Pope Francis as the next bishop of the Diocese of Peterborough,” said McGrattan in a statement. “I very much look forward to meeting the people of the Diocese of Pterborough and serving as their shepherd in the years ahead.”

Born in London, Ont., on Sept. 19, 1956, McGrattan is a product of his home town's St. Peter's Seminary and was ordained in 1987. After serving the Archdiocese of Toronto since 2009, he officially becomes the 12th bishop of Peterborough on Monday, June 23 at 2:00 p.m.

His installation Mass will be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter-in-Chains in Peterborough. Thirty bishops from across Canada, local priests of the dioceses as well as dignitaries including Mayor of Peterborough Daryl Bennett, Vatican representative to Canada Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi and Collins are expected.

Back at St. Paul's in Toronto, parishioners had mixed emotions about McGrattan's new appointment.

Margaret Kim, a St. Andrew Kim parishioner, said she is happy that Pope Francis recognized McGrattan's good work, but that doesn't make it easy to let her beloved bishop go.

“We really love him. He is a human being and has very much love in his heart,” she said. “I am so sad, my husband as well, because I felt that he was a good friend of us and of all Catholic people. I will pray for him.”

Kim praised McGrattan's people skills, commitment to the faith and dedication to average parishioners.

Suresh Dominic, a parishioner from St. Anne's parish in Brampton, Ont., said the attention McGrattan gave to Toronto's laypeople will be missed.

“I know Bishop McGrattan very very well,” he said. “He has been excellent with all of the lay movements, supporting and encouraging all of the lay movements. Our loss is someone's gain and I am happy for Bishop McGrattan that, of course, God wants to use him for a greater purpose in the Diocese of Peterborough. And I believe that he is the right person to take on the job.”

Before McGrattan rose to the altar at St. Paul's to celebrate his formal farewell Mass, Collins expressed his gratitude, and that of the entire diocese, for the years of service McGrattan provided to Toronto.

“I'd like to extend on behalf of our community of faith, I would even say our family of faith, my deep appreciations ... for Bishop McGrattan in the exemplary service that he has given to all of us, our whole community, during his years here as auxiliary bishop,” Collins said. “He has helped us in so many different ways (and) tirelessly devoted himself to the service of God's people.”

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