As the new shepherd of Peterborough Bishop William McGrattan is dedicated to being with the people. Photo by Evan Boudreau.

Bishop McGrattan takes reins in Peterborough

  • June 24, 2014

PETERBOROUGH, ONT. - The people of Peterborough now have a proud new shepherd to lead their flock. 

“Right now I am sort of awed by the fact of the people's faith and their expression of faith by coming to this Mass,” said Bishop William McGrattan, who was installed as the diocese's 12th bishop in a ceremony June 23 at Peterborough's Cathedral Church of St. Peter-in-Chains. 

“There is a large crowd here and I realize the faith is strong in Peterborough and so it gives me courage as I take responsibility to become their new shepherd. I can only thank God for the gift of faith that has been represented here in this celebration.” 

About 850 parishioners, 150 priests, 30 bishops and a number of religious representing various orders filled the pews of the cathedral at the installation Mass. Members of government from the local to federal ranks were also in attendance. 

McGrattan takes the reins of the Central Ontario parish east of Toronto after spending the past four years as auxiliary bishop of Toronto, a period McGrattan referred to as “a time of preparation.” He likened these years to the story of John the Baptist as he delivered his inaugural homily as the bishop of Peterborough. 

“I am grateful for the blessings that I received there so I see it as a time of preparation, a time of strengthening me in my ministry as a bishop,” said McGrattan. “I became aware of the many needs that go just beyond parish. It really broadened my perspective of the Church (and) it is sort of going to help me see and hopefully discern the needs of the Diocese of Peterborugh using that vision.” 

McGrattan replaces Bishop Nicola De Angelis who tendered his resignation after turning 75 this January. De Angelis, who served Peterborough since Dec. 28, 2002, invested greatly in the young laity and that's something McGrattan said he intends to continue. 

“There are wonderful initiatives in vocations and evangelization with youth here in the diocese that Bishop De Angelis started and I want to continue that,” he said. “They're the future of the Church.” 

Fr. Ken Rae, who serves St. Martin of Tours parish in Ennismore, Ont., said the Catholics of the diocese will expect nothing less from their new bishop.

“The people here are very involved and they like to be involved,” he said. “Bishop De Angelis was very much with the people and they would expect that to carry on.” 

The people of Peterborough won't be disappointed with their new bishop say some of the faithful in Toronto who attended McGrattan's farewell Mass at St. Paul's Basilica on June 20. 

“He has been excellent with all of the lay movements, supporting and encouraging all of the lay movements,” said Suresh Dominic, who travelled from Brampton, Ont., to wish McGrattan farewell that day. “Our loss is someone's gain and I am happy for Bishop McGrattan. I believe he is the right person to take on the job.” 

Toronto's Cardinal Thomas Collins, who spoke highly of McGrattan during both Masses, also praised his former student's dedication to the people in the pews. 

“Bishop McGrattan is a wonderful priest,” said Collins at the installation Mass. “As auxiliary bishop he has been a loving, gentle and most inspiring shepherd of the people who he has cared for. It is a time for great celebration for this Church and the people of the Diocese of Peterborough.” 

Joan Gaeensbaur, also a member of the Catholic Women's League, said she looks forward to the leadership of McGrattan although she is sad to see her “good friend” De Angelis leave. 

“I am happy to welcome him and I am looking forward to what he will say to us,” she said. “I like to have a leader in our Church who understands the people and their needs. He is going to help us increase our faith and serve our Church with humility and lead us in a direction that helps all of us be at peace with our Church and our faith.” 

And being in the parish with the people is what McGrattan wants to do, on top of his diocesan duties, because that is where God first touched him. 

“I really sense that my vocation was called from a parish community,” he said. “That is how God touched me and in a sense that grace has always stuck with me so to strengthen parish communities, to be a presence to them (parishioners), not only strengthens my vocation but hopefully my presence can sort of illicit that call to priesthood (and) religious life.” 

Born in London, Ont., the 57-year-old McGrattan studied at St. Peter's Seminary in his hometown and was ordained in 1987. 

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