It was all fun and laughter, with one poignant moment as more than 200 invited guests attended a banquet at Resurrection Parish prior to the installation of Donald Bolen as Archbishop of the Regina Archdiocese (See separate story).
Archbishops, bishops, priests, clergy and guests from across Canada, friends and relatives enjoyed a couple of hours of relaxation with good food, greetings from several people and a presentation from two of Bolen’s sisters, Jeannette Moquin and Judy Corkery, who described growing up with their youngest and only male sibling. “We loved him when he was born; we pampered him.” A video produced by Dustin Corkery, one of Bolen’s nephews, showed him as a boy and young man (“with hair” Corkery joked about her brother). They also expressed a little fear that as Archbishop of Regina he may want to hear their confessions. “But that’s okay because we know a few things about him too,” they joked. “Saskatoon was good for him but now he’s back home.”
Winnipeg Archbishop Emeritus James Weisgerber and Bolen’s friend and first cousin James Ehmann were joint emcees. Weisgerber introduced special guests who brought greetings including Papal Nuncio Very Reverend Luigi Bonazzi, Sister Anna Aulie RNDM who sang a few words of Surprise, reflecting the surprise that many felt at Bolen’s appointment as Archbishop of his home diocese. Archdiocesan Administrator Very Reverend Lorne Crozon particularly appreciated Bolen’s appointment as in a few hours he would be relieved of his duties. Bonazzi thanked Bolen’s sisters and said to the audience, “I give you a new commandment, love one another and walk in each other’s shoes.”
Weisgerber introduced Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, President of the Association of Western Canadian Bishops, suggesting those who asked about the difference between an Emeritus Winnipeg Archbishop and the Winnipeg Archbishop can see the difference for themselves. With that, Gagnon, as he ascended the podium said, “In that case I’ll keep my remarks short,” prompting laughter from the audience. Gagnon is noticeably shorter than Weisgerber. Gagnon did keep it short noting that Bolen is replacing a good man (Bohan, who died in January) and that all the bishops are praying for him.
The poignant moment came when Weisgerber told the story of Pope Paul VI who, at the end of Vatican II, gave all bishops who attended a special ring. Regina Archbishop Michael O’Neil was among them. “He (O’Neil) “asked that it be passed down to his successors. It was given to Archbishop Halpin, who asked that it be passed on to the next bishop to be named from the Archdiocese. When I was appointed Bishop of Saskatoon it was given to me, and I now give it to you, Archbishop Donald Bolen.” Bolen came forward and Weisgerber placed it on his hand to sustained applause from the audience.
Before the banquet ended, Ehmann mentioned what appeared to be an inside joke when he faked a phone call from Rome and said to the audience, “who knew selling the Saskatoon Bishop’s palace was going to cause so much grief.” Only a few from Saskatoon laughed.
Following the banquet, the priests, who had been encouraged to park their vehicles at the Cathedral, returned to the Cathedral in chartered buses.