New Bishop Appointed for the Diocese of Saint John

Thursday, October 10 2019

Ottawa – His Holiness Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Robert Harris as Bishop of the Diocese of Saint John (New Brunswick), and today appointed his successor, the Most Reverend Christian Riesbeck, C.C. At the time of his appointment, Bishop Riesbeck was Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. Bishop Harris has been the Bishop of the Diocese of Saint John for the past 12 years. He submitted his resignation to the Holy Father upon reaching the age of 75, as required by the Code of Canon Law.

Bishop Riesbeck was born in Montréal, Québec on 7 February 1970. He attended the University of Ottawa from which he obtained a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree in Political Science. He then obtained a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) from Saint Paul’s University in Ottawa and a Master of Divinity from St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto. He was ordained to the priesthood as a member of the Companions of the Cross on 12 October 1996. He served in pastoral ministry from 1996 to 1999 for the Archdioceses of Kingston and Ottawa. He then served as pastor for the Queen of Peace parish in Houston, Texas from 1999 to 2008. He completed additional studies at Saint Paul’s University in Ottawa and obtained a Master’s degree and Licentiate in Canon Law in 2010. From 2011 until 2016, Bishop Riesbeck was the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and then became Episcopal Vicar for Canonical Concerns in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, he served as Assistant General Superior of the Companions of the Cross. On 7 January 2014, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Ottawa and ordained Bishop at Ottawa on 19 March 2014. Following his episcopal ordination, he served as Vicar General and Vicar for National Language Parishes, Communities and Faithful for the Archdiocese. As a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Bishop Riesbeck served as a Consultor to the Standing Committee for Canon Law (2016-2017), co-Chair of the CCCB Catholic-Evangelical dialogue (2016-2018), and since 2017 is the Moderator of the Canadian Appeal Tribunal.

Bishop Harris is originally from Montréal, and served the Archdiocese of Montréal from 1969 to 2002 as a pastor, Ecclesiastical Lawyer and Collegial Judge for the Montréal Regional Marriage Tribunal, Director of Vocations, Formator at the Grand Seminary of Montréal, Episcopal Vicar to the English Speaking Faithful, and Director of the Office for English Pastoral Services. In 2002, he was appointed Monsignor by Pope Saint John Paul II. Later that same year, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Sault Ste-Marie, where he served for five years until his appointment in 2007 as the Bishop of Saint John.

As a member of the CCCB, Bishop Harris served as member of the then Social Communications Commission (English Sector) from 2003 to 2005, the then Programs and Priorities Committee from 2005 to 2007, the Permanent Council from 2005 to 2007, and the then Anglican Ordinariate Implementation Committee from 2010 to 2012. He also served as the Chairman of the then Canon Law and Inter-Rite Commission (2005-2008), Moderator of the Canadian Appeal Tribunal (2005-2011), and Bishop-promoter of the Apostleship of the Sea-Canada (2009-2014).

The Diocese of Saint John has 68 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 115,400 served by 52 diocesan priests, ten priests and 66 Sisters who are members of institutes of consecrated life, two permanent deacons, as well as one lay pastoral assistant.