Most Rev. Donald J. Bolen:
Seventh Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, 2009-2016
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Donald Joseph Bolen as the seventh bishop of Saskatoon Dec. 21, 2009 and his Episcopal Ordination was held on the Feast of the Annunciation, Thursday, March 25, 2010 at St. Patrick’s Parish in Saskatoon.
Most Rev. Donald Bolen’s tenure as bishop of Saskatoon (2010-2016) included a multitude of initiatives and projects. He came into the diocese just as construction was beginning on a new diocesan Cathedral and Catholic Pastoral Centre, after years of planning and fundraising under the leadership of outgoing Saskatoon Bishop Albert LeGatt.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process to address the painful legacy of the Indian Residential School System and the June 2012 national event that was held in Saskatoon also impacted Bolen’s tenure as bishop.The diocese established a new consultative body, the Diocesan Council for Truth and Reconciliation under his leadership. The DCTR includes Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal representatives. Initiatives of the DCTR have included a pastoral letter and ecumenical event about the issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and the establishment of a day of prayer for reconciliation and healing in the diocese and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools. In 2016 a treaty elder series inviting Indigenous elders to come to parishes and talk about their spiritual traditions was also initiated.
The diocese’s consultative structure was revised and refined under Bishop Bolen’s leadership, bringing new energy, direction and discernment to groups such as the Priests Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council. A new salary grid was introduced for parish and ministry employees in the diocese, and the work of the personnel committee now includes annual meetings with priests of the diocese and the invitation for feedback from parish councils.
Dialogue was an ongoing cornerstone of Bolen’s time as bishop: dialogue with other Christians, with members of other faith traditions, with people of good will and the culture at large. Events during his tenure included public inter-faith forums about issues such as “faith in the public sphere” or “peace and terrorism”, a public discussion on compassion between the Catholic bishop and a Tibetan Buddhist, and a public conversation on the music of Leonard Cohen by Bishop Bolen and Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsy. A local Evangelical-Catholic dialogue initiated by Bolen in 2009 has produced a joint statement and nurtured many discussions and friendships, while an Ecumenical Formation Program has been established through the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism.
Justice and Peace was an ongoing priority for Bolen, both in the diocese and on the national stage, where he serves as chair of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).
After the retirement of long-time volunteer coordinator of Justice and Peace Tony Haynes, as well as a process of restructuring and strategic planning, a full-time coordinator was hired for the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace. Donations – first from the late Rev. Paul Donlevy and family and then from Holy Spirit parish – also led to hiring a half-time staff person to coordinate a new diocesan Office of Migration, created to oversee issues around refugee sponsorship. Persecution of Christians around the world, the scourge of human trafficking, the need to care for the environment, opposing the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia, protecting conscience rights, and promoting the need for palliative care, are among issues addressed in the diocese and beyond during Bolen’s time as bishop.
Other milestones have included the return of diocesan missionaries from Brazil, a re-envisioned Christian Initiation and Catechetics office, the renewal of the diocesan Covenant of Care and sexual abuse policies, the establishment of a Justice and Outreach Year of Formation (JOY) program, and a discernment about ordaining men to the Permanent Diaconate in the diocese of Saskatoon.
After six years as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Most Rev. Donald Bolen was appointed Archbishop of Regina, with an installation celebration held Oct. 14, 2016.
Bishop Donald Bolen Documents
- July 11, 2016 – Letter to Saskatoon/Regina dioceses at a time of transition ENGLISH / FRENCH
- March 2016 – Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan about the Legalization of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia ENGLISH / FRENCH
- March 29, 2016 – Catholic response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action ENGLISH/ FRENCH
- Feb. 27, 2016 – Share Lent 2016 ENGLISH / FRENCH
- Dec. 22, 2015 – Message to the Faithful (Christmas 2015)
- July 13, 2015 – Pastoral Letter to the Catholic Faithful of Saskatchewan about Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
- Feb. 23, 2015 – Letter from Bishop Bolen to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan
- Oct. 21, 2014 – Pastoral Letter on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ENGLISH / FRENCH
- April 20, 2014 – Message to the Faithful (Easter 2014)
- December 2013 – Letter to the Editor about prayer at civic events
- June 2012 – Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Bishop Bolen’s Successor: Pope Francis appointed Most Rev. Mark Andrew Hagemoen as the eighth Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon on Sept. 12, 2017, with an Installation Celebration held Nov. 23, 2017. At the time of his appointment, Bishop Hagemoen was serving as the bishop of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith in the Canadian North. He was born and raised in Vancouver, ordained to the priesthood in May 1990, and ordained/installed Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith on Dec. 1, 2013. For more information about Bishop Hagemoen see: Our Bishop