At least 29 deacons, 120 priests, 19 bishops, a nuncio, a cardinal, dozens of religious and seminarians, and hundreds of faithful people gathered at St. Joseph Basilica in Edmonton, Alberta on the evening of September 3 to celebrate the ordination of Bishop Gregory Bittman. It was announced on July 14, 2012 that the Holy Father had appointed then-Father Bittman as an Auxiliary (assistant) Bishop for the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Bishop Bittman will be one of only a handful of Auxiliary Bishops in Canada, and Edmonton’s first.
Archbishop Richard Smith was the presiding Bishop of the ordination. He was joined by his two immediate predecessors as Archbishops of Edmonton, Cardinal Thomas Collins, who came from Toronto, and Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil. Archbishop Pedro Lopez-Quintana, Canada’s Papal Nuncio, was also in attendance as was Archbishop Gérald Lacroix, the Archbishop of Québec and Primate of Canada.
Cardinal Collins preached the homily in a gentle, humble, humourous way about how Bishops, like the Pope, are called to be “Servants of the servants of God.” He said that although a “baby” Bishop learns a lot in the “Bishop School” new Bishops attend in Rome, they must learn how to be Bishops most of all through daily life, sometimes by making mistakes, since everyday is a kind of “Bishop School.”
He also noted the importance of striving for holiness and humility. “The Vatican manual for Bishops says that the Bishop must be humble, because since he must make a lot of decisions we must assume he will make a lot of mistakes. Good point.”
At the end of the ordination Mass Bishop Bittman expressed his gratitude for all the prayers and support he had received. This was the first episcopal ordination celebrated in the city of Edmonton since 1958, and the first episcopal ordination of a Bishop who is to serve in that Archdiocese. When he returns from “Bishop School” he will assist Archbishop Richard Smith in teaching, governing and sanctifying the Archdiocese of Edmonton.
God bless you Bishop Bittman!
Photo courtesy of Lito Soco