Yesterday I was happy to attend the Mass of Thanksgiving and Farewell for one of Toronto's Auxiliary Bishops, now the new Bishop of Charlottetown, Bishop Richard Grecco.
Bishop Grecco leaves Toronto after being the senior Vicar General and the Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto responsible for the Central Pastoral Region and Scarborough of the Archdiocese of Toronto (approximately 98 parishes). He also worked closely with the many lay associations across the archdiocese and served as the Episcopal Vicar for almost all of the area's ethnic communities.
While I didn't personally get a chance to see Bishop Grecco in action with the lay movements and associations, I dealt with these groups during the lead up to World Youth Day 2002 when Bishop Grecco's predecessor, Bishop DeAngelis (now Bishop of Peterborough), was Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto. What important and blessed work! The treasure held by our lay movements and associations is great and the work they do in our archdiocese is invaluable. The role of the bishop to shepherd these groups is of utmost importance. That Bishop Grecco fulfilled this role spectacularly was apparent by the numbers of members of these movements who were present at the Mass.
Born in St. Catharines, Ontario, Bishop Grecco completed his theological studies at St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto and the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1982, he received his doctorate of theology from the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto. Ordained a priest in 1973 for the diocese of St. Catharines, he served as parish priest and then taught Moral Theology at St. Michael’s College and Edmonton's St. Joseph’s College. Pope John Paul II named him Auxiliary Bishop of London in 1997 and later appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto in 2002.
During his homily yesterday, Bishop Grecco reflected on the last line of the first reading from Paul's 1st letter to the Thessalonians:
"Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing." (1 Thess 5:11)
With those words he leaves us. As he himself felt encouraged by those in the lay movements and in the ethnic parishes, by the staff at the Pastoral Centre, by his brother priests and bishops, and by Cardinal Aloysius
Amb rozic and Archbishop Thomas Collins, he urged us to continue to build each other up. I thought it was wonderful advice.
Bishop Grecco is now the the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of Charlottetown, which has a Catholic population of 63,240, with 58 parishes and missions that extend across the province.
Bishop Grecco, we will miss your spirit and your smile. We wish you well and hope to have a chance to work with you soon -- a good excuse for us to visit Charlottetown!