Pembroke welcomes newest bishop

  • September 28, 2007
{mosimage}PEMBROKE - This rural diocese straddling the Ottawa River and taking in parts of Ontario and Quebec welcomed 45-year-old Michael Mulhall as its eighth bishop Sept. 21.

The ordination at Pembroke’s St. Columbkille Cathedral coincided with the Feast of St. Matthew as well as the 125th anniversary of the ordination of Narcisse Lorrain, Pembroke’s first bishop. Archbishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to Canada, presented Mulhall with Lorrain’s crozier and used the first bishop’s chalice at the altar.

In a brief news conference following the ordination, Mulhall said he was confident God’s grace would console him and guide him, an experience he has had all his life.

“Whatever challenges come, the Lord will give us the strength to overcome,” he said.

{sidebar id=2}He said his priority will be “that we live out our faith and hand on our faith and are joyful in doing it and live it to the fullest.”

“If there’s a goal, it’s the salvation of all of us, the gift that’s given to us,” he said. 

Ordained to the priesthood in 1989, Mulhall first served in Huntsville in the Peterborough diocese from 1991-1994.  He then went to Rome as an official for the Congregation for Oriental Churches, and returned to Peterborough in 2002. In 2003 he became spiritual affairs chancellor and vicar general.

Still largely unfamiliar with the diocese, Mulhall first plans to visit priests and their parishes.

The new bishop also called abortion one of the most pressing challenges of the church.

“It’s a difficulty that’s unseen, it’s a difficulty that’s wreaking havoc in our spiritual lives, in our nation and throughout the world,” he said, urging Catholics to keep pro-life issues not only in their hearts and minds, but also at the forefront of political movements.

Two of Mulhall’s predecessors who were also in their 40s when they were ordained to the episcopacy in Pembroke attended the ceremonies: Archbishop Brendan O’Brien, who went on to become archbishop of St. John’s before his installation in Kingston in late July; and Archbishop Richard Smith, who was installed earlier this year in Edmonton. About two dozen bishops from all parts of Canada and more than a hundred priests attended the consecration.

In his homily, Ventura said a bishop’s fundamental duty is “to preserve the integrity and purity of truth, to proclaim it without compromise and to transmit it without alteration.”

“A bishop does not dispose of the truth as it were his own possession; he is the servant, the witness and the tireless proponent,” the Vatican’s ambassador said.

“This revealed truth is not a system of ideas but a living person who knows us, encounters us and seeks to inspire us with His love,” said Ventura, who exhorted Mulhall to follow God’s command by preaching the Gospel.

Pembroke, a rural diocese dotted with small towns, farms and woodlots, faces the usual priest shortages, with some pastors serving several missions. The diocese is home to a vibrant Catholic community that includes the headquarters of Madonna House, a lay apostolate founded by Catherine Doherty 50 years ago, and a Companions of the Cross formation centre.

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