Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bishop Smith Goes to Edmonton

At January's end, whilst doing the (ecclesiastical) star-gazing during Archbishop Thomas Collins' installation in Toronto, one couldn't help but notice the bishop of Pembroke standing solidly head and shoulders above the other prelates grouped on either side of the cathedra.

Sure, Richard Smith is tall. But, me being me, I took it as a bit of an omen....

This morning, the Pope named the 47 year-old Smith as archbishop of Edmonton, succeeding the aforementioned TC.

The appointment is but the latest step in a rapid rise for Smith, currently president of the Ontario bishops and also spiritual advisor to Canada's highly-influential Catholic Womens' League (CWL). A native of Halifax, where he served as vicar-general prior to his 2002 appointment to the northern Ontario diocese of 65,000, he was a professor of theology at St Peter's Seminary in London in addition to serving simultaneously as pastor of three communities. A Roman alum, he earned his doctorate in theology from the Greg in 1998.

When Smith addressed the Pope in the name of his confreres on the Ontario ad limina last fall, this readership was advised that the Pembroke prelate "seems to have the makings of a rising star" and "might want to keep an eye on him."

Suffice it to say, message received.

Word from the north deems the appointment an "inspired" one and another Luigian triumph. For his part, the archbishop-elect said this morning that his move "gives rise... to mixed feelings."

Edmonton was moved upon quickly following Collins' January departure for Canada's most-prominent ecclesiastical post. The Pembroke opening is the third one pending in Ontario, alongside the vacant archdiocese of Kingston and the archdiocese of Ottawa, where Archbishop Marcel Gervais has announced that his successor will be in place by June's end.

As Collins' road didn't end in Edmonton, Smith's buzz has already indicated likewise. But that can wait for another time.

Diocese of Pembroke