Archbishop-elect Smith was born on April 28, 1959, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 23, 1987, for the Archdiocese of Halifax where he served in a number of positions including as Vicar General and as responsible for the pastoral ministry of French-speaking Catholics in Halifax. He holds a master's degree in divinity from the Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax, as well as a licentiate and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Since becoming Bishop, Archbishop-elect Smith has been an active member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has been a member of the English Sector Commission for Christian Education since 2003, and is its current Chairman, and is also the national spiritual advisor of the Catholic Women's League of Canada. As well, he is currently President of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Archdiocese of Edmonton has a population of 333,000 Catholics in 137 parishes and missions served by 75 diocesan priests, 87 religious priests, two permanent deacons and 379 religious Brothers and Sisters as well as 52 lay pastoral workers.
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