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Archbishop Donald J. BolenArchbishop bolen

Appointed eighth Archbishop of the Regina Archdiocese
by Pope Francis on July 11, 2016.

Motto:   “Verbum Vitae / Mercy within Mercy within Mercy”                 

Biographical Notes

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 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. 


What's New

Riffel High School Graduation 2013

Last updated on July 9, 2013

My friends, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here with you this evening, to be a part of your graduation celebrations and to celebrate this Mass which asks God to bless all of you who are graduating from Riffel High School this year and to bless the future that lies ahead for you.

Graduation from High School is one of big things that we do in our lives. It has been a long time since I graduated from High School. So long that I won’t even say how long. But I remember very clearly everything about that event: Who I was sitting near on the stage, what it felt like, what we sang as a graduating class during the ceremony, what they played when we marched in. My High School graduation was one of the big turning points in my life. Although others would follow, this first one stays continually in my mind. It is a pleasant, pleasant memory for me.

Graduation marks a major turning point in the lives of each of you who is here celebrating your graduation this evening. Up until...

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Canada Day Mass 2013

Last updated on July 9, 2013

We come together for Mass on this Canada Day. Yet Canada Day is itself not a religious celebration. Nonetheless, we take advantage of this civic holiday to pray for our country and for those who govern it. We gather as Christian people, as members of the Catholic Church, to place our country into God’s hands so that God may protect it and all who live in it from harm.

We pray for wisdom in those who govern Canada, we pray that our country will be marked by “respect for human life and the dignity of every citizen, so that justice may flourish and all peoples live in unity and peace.” (Opening Collect)

To pray for our country and our world is part of the mission God has given to us, we who are His Church. As disciples of Jesus we understand that through our baptism we have been given a mission to carry out in our world and in our country. We are called to make known the Good News that Jesus proclaimed.

We do this by being witnesses to Christ everywhere we are. We...

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Celebrating The Lay Ministry

Last updated on July 11, 2013

It's a pleasure for me to be here today to take part in this celebration of lay ministry in the Church. What is lay ministry? Why is this important for our diocese? Why is this important for the people who are completing the program today?

We must look to the person of Jesus Christ for the answer to these questions. When it comes to ministry, Jesus is the one minister of God. And we share in his ministry. It is our Catholic faith that by our baptism we aremade one body with Christ and are established among the People of God. Those who are baptized are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions of Jesus. They carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with respect to the Church and the world.

Ministry is to carry out this life of service which Jesus lived and which he calls us to share. Jesus allows us to share in his own mission. In the first reading today, St. Paul said that God has given us the “ministry...

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The Forget Annual Pilgrimage

Last updated on July 11, 2013

A pilgrimage is defined as a journey to a shrine or sacred place in order to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit. And so, during this Year of Faith, we come here to the shrine of Our Lady of La Salette seeking to encounter in a special way the one to whom Mary always directs our gaze and our attention. That person is Mary`s son, Jesus, who is the Son of God and who by offering up his life has brought salvation to the whole world.

Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we encounter the person of Jesus who is present to us in this sacrament. We encounter the person of Jesus who reaches out to touch us and transform us, to bring us healing and to lead us to find the answers to the great questions of our lives. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life for all who believe in him.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter proclaiming the Year of Faith, asked Catholics throughout the world to increase our knowledge of what we...

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Archbishop Bohan at Easter Vigil

Last updated on April 1, 2013

My dear friends, there is a little book that tells Bishops how they are to celebrate the liturgy the great feast days of the year. It tells me that this night is an ancient tradition in the Church.“It is a night of vigil for the Lord.”It is“the memorial of the holy night of Christ’s resurrection.”So it is clearly a night of great holiness, of great mystery, and of very deep meaning for us. We find answers to deep questions here tonight. We encounter the One who has the power to save us from all that darkness that can weigh down upon us from day to day as we live out our lives.

The book quotes St. Augustine who called this night “the mother of all holy vigils.” The paragraph then concludes with these words:“The Church this night awaits the Lord’s resurrection and celebrates it with the sacraments of Christian Initiation.”

There are many different ways we celebrate Easter. Some do it with Easter eggs and bunnies – especially chocolate ones! (Always my favourite.) Some...

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Archbishop Bohan's Homily for Good Friday

Last updated on April 1, 2013

My dear sisters and brothers, in this second liturgy of the Sacred Triduum of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection we enter into the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord. All around the world, this Good Friday Liturgy draws people in great number. Something happens here that resonates with our human experience. In hearing the story of Jesus’ suffering and death we somehow identify a connection with Jesus and our own lives. And we find comfort and assurance.

Isaiah, the Old Testament Prophet, wrote about the Servant of God who suffered greatly, who“poured out himself to death”as he bore the sins and iniquities of many. The Church has recognized Jesus in the prophetic words of Isaiah, for Jesus through his death has become“the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Jesus hasborne our infirmities and carried our diseases. . . he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises...

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Archbishop On Palm Sunday

Last updated on March 25, 2013

My dear sisters and brothers; As we celebrate Palm Sunday today, we begin Holy Week. These coming days will reach the peak of their intensity with the Paschal Triduum, the Three Day celebration of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. In these liturgies we will enter into the great mystery of God’s love for us.

With the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday the sacred liturgy makes present for us Jesus’ Institution of the Eucharist so that we may become one with Him as he gives his life for us in order that we may live always with Him.

On Good Friday we will stand at the Cross of Jesus as he offers His life as a sacrifice to His Father and takes away our sins and the sins of the world.

On Holy Saturday we remain in silence with the Church as Jesus lies in the tomb. Death has claimed him.

And then at Easter, beginning with the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening, the Resurrection of Jesus is made present for us in the liturgies of the...

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Archbishop's Chrism Homily

Last updated on March 25, 2013

Dear sisters and brothers; We often have conversations with our God. We pray. These conversations occur in the many situations in our lives, words such as these taken from the Psalms recur over and over: “Hear and answer my prayer, O Lord; let me not weep in vain.” “O Lord, turn your ear to my cry! Do not be deaf to my tears.”These have been the prayers of God’s people to our God since ancient times.

The psalms are full of such prayers:“O God, come to my assistance.” “O Lord, hurry to help me.” “…my spirit fails, my heart is numb within me. Lord, listen to my prayer; turn your ear to my appeal.”(Ps. 143) In times of need, of desperation, of fear and aloneness, People have turned to God for help, for courage, for strength, for healing. We do this because we believe that God indeed hears us and answers our prayers.

When God’s Son took on our human nature, he entered into our world and our human lives. God became present to us in Jesus. All God’s promises and gifts were...

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Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, 2013

Last updated on January 7, 2013

Dear friends, in our Canadian Church we have only two Holy Days of Obligation each year, other than the Sunday; days in which we are obliged to come together as the Church and celebrate the Eucharist. And they both occur within this past week. The first is Christmas, the celebration of the Birth of the Lord and the second is today, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Octave Day, the Eighth Day of Christmas.

The Church does something peculiar in this week we are concluding today: it celebrates Christmas Day for eight days. For eight days Catholic people are called to bring themselves into the company of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, with her, to ponder the words we have heard and the events that have been told to us about the birth of Jesus. As St. Luke tells us in his Gospel, the Shepherds, having heard the message delivered to them by the Angels, went to Bethlehem and told Mary and Joseph what the Angel told them. Everyone was amazed.“But Mary treasured all these...

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Christmas Homily 2012

Last updated on January 1, 2013

One of the most popular Christmas Carols, I believe, is Silent Night. Would you sing it with me:

Silent Night, holy Night 

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon virgin, mother and Child

Holy Infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

It is very beautiful, and it expresses what perhaps is a deep dream and longing for all of us: that somewhere, somehow, our lives can be places where all is calm and all is bright; and indeed somewhere we can truly find heavenly peace in our own life.

We know however, don’t we, that our lives are very often not calm and certainly not always bright. The reality of our lives, like the life of every human being, is that we are often in turmoil. And rather than being filled with brightness and peace, we are weighed down by events that can only be described as deep darkness.

Every year, on the Sunday before Christmas, I am invited to the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre...

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Archbishop's Videos

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