February 7, 1961: Born in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. the son of the late Joseph (+1968) and Rose (+2006) Bolen.
October 12, 1991: Ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan
December 21, 2009: Appointed Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
March 25, 2010: Created Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
July 11, 2016: Appointed by Pope Francis as Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan
October 14, 2016 Installed as Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina, Saskatchewan
Studies and Academic Degrees
1978-1984 (intermittently): B.A. Honours in Religious Studies at the University of Regina
1986-1989: B.Th. in Theology, Saint Paul University, Ottawa
1989-1990, 1993-94: M.Th. and Licentiate in Theology, Saint Paul University, Ottawa
1994-1997, 2000-2001: Work on D.Phil. in Theology, University of Oxford
Ministry and Other Positions
1991-1993: Associate Pastor, Estevan
1994: Priest Moderator at Church of Our Lady, Moose Jaw
Faculty, Dept. of Religious Studies, Campion College, University of Regina
Priest Moderator, Milestone and Lang Parishes
Administrator, Paroisse St. Jean Baptiste, Regina
Chair of Ecumenical Commission, Archdiocese of Regina
Faculty, Campion College, University of Regina
Priest Moderator, St. Jean-Baptiste, Regina
Chair of Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission
Staff member at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome, staffing Anglican-Roman Catholic and Methodist-Roman Catholic relations and the preparation of texts for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Served as Co-secretary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) and the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Catholic Church.
2009: Nash Chair in Religion, Campion College, University of Regina
Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Regina
Pastor of St. Joseph, Balgonie, St. Agnes, Pilot Butte, and St. Peter’s Colony, Kronau
Chair of Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission
CCCB Commissions and Committees
2011-present: Member of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace
2012- present: Co-Chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Dialogue
2014-present: Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace
Organizations and Commissions of the Holy See
2012 to present: Member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
2009 to present: Member of the International Consultation Between the World Evangelical Alliance and the Catholic Church.
2011 to present: Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission.
2013 to present: Co-Chair of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Catholic Church.
2008: Awarded the Cross of Saint Augustine by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for service to relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion (2008).
2014: Honorary Fellow of the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad, University of Saskatchewan.
Coat of Arms
At the centre of Archbishop Donald Bolen’s Coat of Arms is the open word of God, an echo of the open book of the Gospels being held over his head when he was first ordained a bishop. On the book is the Latin phrase “Verbum Vitae,” that is, “the Word of Life.” The text comes in the first instance from the First Letter of John: “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, the word of life...” (1 Jn. 1:1). St. Paul also admonishes his hearers to “hold fast to the word of life” (Phil. 2:16).
At the bottom of the Coat of Arms is a small banner that reads “mercy within mercy within mercy.” The quotation is from Thomas Merton’s 1953 book The Sign of Jonas (Jonah), wherein Merton has God saying: “I have always overshadowed Jonas with my mercy.... Have you not had sight of me, Jonas, my child? Mercy within mercy within mercy.” The Word which Mary welcomes with her fiat, the Word which becomes incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, the Word who gives himself to us completely, even unto death, but which death cannot contain: what that Word speaks is mercy within mercy within mercy. The sword evokes the text from the Letter to the Hebrews (4:12), that “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The shepherd’s crook – a bishop’s staff – represents the apostolic calling to be a good shepherd, to feed the sheep, to take care of the lambs (Jn.10; Jn. 21). The shell is abundantly present in the iconography found within the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier “del Caravita” where Bishop Bolen served on the pastoral staff during his years in Rome, and symbolizes Baptism. Both the shepherd’s staff and the shell also symbolize being a pilgrim in a pilgrim Church. They speak directly of the camino to Santiago de Compostela which the Archbishop walked in preparation for his ministry in the Archdiocese.
The wheat sheaf, against the blue backdrop, speaks in the first instance of the Saskatchewan prairies, the vast sheltering skies beneath which we live, and the dignity of a way of life closely tied to the land. Jesus also speaks of his own paschal mystery in terms of the grain of wheat which falls to the ground and dies, and bears much fruit (Jn. 12:24). Wheat is also thus a symbol of the Eucharist, of the Lord’s invitation to receive his life-giving presence into our lives, to allow our lives to be broken and poured out for others. Alongside the shell, it speaks of the sacramental life of the Church, and also of ecumenical efforts to come to a shared sacramental life.
The hat with ten tassels on either side and the cross are emblematic of the hierarchical status of the episcopal office, and are present on every Roman Catholic archbishop’s coat of arms. The Cross with the fleur de lis, like every cross, symbolizes the paschal mystery, the saving death and resurrection of Jesus. The fleur de lis is also a symbol of French and francophones, and thus of Gravelbourg, the hometown of Archbishop Donald, and of the francophone communities within the Archdiocese.
Father Joe passed away peacefully on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. He was born in Spy Hill, Saskatchewan, the first born of Joseph and Mary (Orosz) Firkola on March 24, 1930. He was educated in Grove Park School and St. Peter’s College in Muenster, SK. Joe continued his studies in Philosophy and Theology at St. Peter’s Seminary, University of Western Ontario, receiving Bachelor of Arts in Honours Philosophy in 1954. He answered the call to the priesthood and continued his study of Theology at St. Peter’s Seminary, London Ontario. Father Joe was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1956 at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, Kaposvar, SK. Father chose as his Motto the words of Jesus, “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly”. (Jn 10:10)
Father Joe served the parishes of St. Cecilia, Sacred Heart, St...