By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thank you, Bishop Henry!

Today an announcement came out of the Vatican informing us that the Holy Father has accepted the request of Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary to retire. As Bishop Henry has explained to his priests and staff, this request arises out of increasing limitations placed upon him due to a particularly debilitating form of arthritis. I am pleased for his sake that the Holy Father has responded generously and kindly to his request, yet I admit to feelings of sadness and regret as he leaves office. As I heard another Bishop put it, it feels like we’ve just lost from the team one of our most important players!

Bishop Henry has served not only his Diocese but also the Church in Canada exceptionally well. Of particular note is the outstanding contribution he has made in the field of Catholic education in both Alberta and across the country. I consider it a blessing and privilege to have worked closely with Bishop Henry, from whom I have learned a great deal.

Bishop Henry has been a Bishop for more than thirty years, and has served as Chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Calgary since 1998. His episcopal motto, ‘Dabo Vobis Pastores’ (I will give you pastors) is taken from Jeremiah 3:15, which reads ‘I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding’. Well, he has certainly lived up to that! A man of God who has taken very seriously the responsibilities entrusted to him as Bishop, he has not failed to pass on the faith to the people entrusted to his care. For this role he has been particularly gifted with a capacity for clear thought and bold proclamation. Indeed, Bishop Henry is known not only in his Diocese but also provincially, nationally and beyond for his courageous preaching of the Gospel. Where others might be tempted to stay silent for fear of criticism or loss of popularity, Bishop Henry has not hesitated to speak the truths of our faith whenever required, however difficult the circumstances might be. Indeed, a shepherd who cares for the people entrusted to him cannot do otherwise, and I know that Bishop Henry cares very deeply indeed.

I extend to him my personal thanks for his leadership and example, and I know that many join with me in praying for God’s blessings upon him in his years of retirement.