Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Elect New Executive and Appoint New General Secretary

Monday, October 04 2021

Following the conclusion of the 2021 Plenary Assembly meeting, the Bishops of Canada announced two tangible commitments to walk with the Indigenous Peoples of this land along the pathway of hope as well as to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors, their families and communities: an apology by the Bishops of Canada to Indigenous Peoples and an announcement of a nation-wide collective financial commitment with a target of $30 million.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) held its biennial election to determine the new members the Executive Committee and Permanent Council. The Most Reverend Raymond Poisson, Bishop of Saint-Jérôme and of Mont-Laurier was elected the President, and the Most Reverend William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary, was elected the Vice President.

Mgr PoissonThe new CCCB President, Bishop Poisson, having previously served a two-year term as the Vice President, succeeds the Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg. Bishop Poisson was born in Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Rouville, Québec, on 30 April 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil on 9 December 1983. On 1 May 2012, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Jérôme and ordained Auxiliary Bishop in Saint-Jérôme on 15 June 2012. On 7 September 2015, he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Joliette and installed on 4 November 2015. On 18 May 2018, he was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Jérôme. He assumed the pastoral governance of the Diocese on 20 May 2019. On 1 June 2020, the Diocese of Mont-Laurier was united to the Diocese of Saint-Jérôme in persona episcopi (that is, “in the person of the Bishop”) with Bishop Poisson appointed to serve both dioceses as their Bishop.

The new Vice President, Bishop William McGrattan, was born in London, Ontario, on 19 September 1956. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of London on 2 May 1987. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto on 6 November 2009 and ordained Auxiliary Bishop in Toronto on 12 January 2010. On 8 April 2014, he was appointed Bishop of Peterborough and installed on 23 June 2014. On 3 January 2017, Bishop McGrattan was appointed Bishop of Calgary and installed on 27 February 2017. He previously served as the CCCB Co-Treasurer from the English Sector for two terms.

The incoming Executive Committee also includes two Co-Treasurers: from the French Sector, for a second term, the Most Reverend Pierre Goudreault, Bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, and from the English Sector, for a first term, the Most Reverend Gerard Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines.

The following Bishops were elected to the Permanent Council as regional representatives: the Most Rev. Mgr Wayne Kirkpatrick (Atlantic), the Most Rev Claude Hamelin (Quebec), the Most Rev. Marcel Damphousse (Ontario), and the Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen (West). The entire Permanent Council is constituted by these four regional representatives in addition to the members of the Executive Committee and four other ex officio members.

The Plenary Assembly of Bishops likewise elected a new CCCB General Secretary for a first term of three years, renewable once. Fr. Jean Vézina, a priest of the Diocese of Sault Ste-Marie, officially began his mandate on 27 September 2021. Prior to his position as CCCB General Secretary, Fr. Vézina held a number of key pastoral and administrative positions: Chancellor for the Diocese of Sault Ste-Marie; Assistant to the General Secretary of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario; and Director of l’Office provincial de l’éducation de la foi Catholique de l’Ontario (OPÉCO), i.e., the provincial office for Catholic French-language faith education.

As part of the regular proceedings of the meetings, the Plenary began with a message to the Holy Father, followed by the President’s Report on the Conference’s activities over the previous year. The new Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, the Most Reverend Ivan Jurkovic, delivered greetings to all Bishops on behalf of Pope Francis. For a second year in a row, COVID-19 was an important topic of discussion, its impacts and the present-day realities of the Church in Canada as well as the universal Church. A special virtual presentation on the activities of the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission was delivered by His Eminence Cardinal Peter Turkson and Sr. Alessandra Smerilli of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The Bishops of Canada were pleased to receive ecumenical greetings by the Most Reverend Linda Nicholls, Anglican Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, which carried particular significance as 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic (ARC) Dialogue.

Presentations were also provided on activities related to Palliative Care, Maritime Ministry, the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family, the 2023 Synod of Bishops and the expansion of euthanasia/assisted suicide (“MAiD”) in Canada. Each year, the Plenary agenda includes time for the meetings of English Sector and French Sector Bishops allowing for discussion on liturgical, catechetical and other pastoral matters which are closely tied to language and culture.


For further information:

Lisa Gall, Lead, Communications Service
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)
Phone: 613-241-9461, ext. 225