His Holiness Pope Francis has named Most Rev. Mark Hagemoen as the eighth Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. At the time of his appointment, Bishop Hagemoen was serving as the Bishop of the northern Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
The new bishop-elect for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has a number of passions, including fostering a deeper relationship with Indigenous People, pursuing the New Evangelization, furthering youth ministry, and supporting Catholic education.
Bishop Mark Hagemoen, 56, who has served for four years as bishop of the northern diocese of MacKenzie-Fort Smith, was named the eighth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon in an announcment by Pope Francis released Sept. 12, 2017.
The diocese of Saskatoon has been without a bishop since Oct. 14, 2016, when former bishop Most. Rev. Donald Bolen was inaugurated as Archbishop of Regina. The date for Hagemoen’s installation as bishop of Saskatoon has not yet been announced.
In an interview from his office in Yellowknife, the new bishop-elect said the unexpected appointment is a bittersweet moment.
Saying farewell to the people of Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese is going to be difficult, admits Hagemoen, who says he was surprised by Pope Francis’ decision to appoint him bishop of Saskatoon.
“It does come at a difficult time in the diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, as we are just moving ahead with a number of programs and renovation projects,” he says. “We accomplished a fair bit this year, after discerning and gathering things up for a couple of years.”
He describes Mackenzie-Fort Smith as an Aboriginal diocese. “Most of the Catholic people here are Aboriginal. It has been a privilege and a learning for me, and I still have lots to learn,” he says of his experience as shepherd of the geographically-large diocese that covers all the Northwest Territories, part of western Nunavut, as well as the Athabasca region of northern Saskatchewan.
“In my whole way of approaching pastoral ministry, I have been shaped by walking with our Aboriginal people here. In terms of how I pastor, and how I approach things, that has been a real gift.”
Another passion for Hagemoen is the need for a New Evangelization. This includes “the whole issue of outreach to the people of God, especially in the spirit of Pope Francis,” he explains. “What does it mean to go beyond the perepheries, those existential perepheries, and what does that mean in our age, our time and place? That is fascinating to me.”
As a priest in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Hagemoen spent some ten years involved in youth and young adult outreach and ministry: “so that is also always on my radar,” he adds.
Hagemoen also emphasizes the great importance of Catholic education and the Catholic intellectual tradition. “Catholic education is a real contributor to our society, and supporting Catholic education is another passion for me.”
The first priority upon coming to the diocese of Saskatoon will be to get to know the diocese, to listen, and to meet people, says Hagemoen.
“The diocese of Saskatoon seems to be a very dynamic diocese, with a rich history, a strong Catholic legacy and culture, and I am looking forward to contributing to that legacy with all my might and energy, as well as I can, with the help of almighty God.”
Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Hagemoen completed his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, and after a year of travel throughout southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe, he entered St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario, completing his Masters of Divinity degree in 1990.
He was ordained a priest in Vancouver by Bishop Lawrence Sabatini on behalf of Archbishop James F. Carney in May 1990. His pastoral assignments included ten years as the director of the Office of Youth Ministry, as well as serving in several parishes.
He completed the National Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies and the Diploma for Advanced Studies in Ministry in 1997. He earned a Doctor of Ministry program at Trinity Western University, which he completed in 2007. In December 2007, he was honoured by Pope Benedict XVI, who recognized him as “Prelate of Honour” for his work in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Beginning in 2004, Hagemoen was appointed for the Archdiocese of Vancouver to several administrative roles, including Vicar of Pastoral Services; Moderator of the Curia, and Vicar General. He was appointed principal of St. Mark’s and president of Corpus Christi Colleges in 2011. He also served on a number of church, school, and other not-for-profit boards and committees.
Pope Francis appointed Hagemoen bishop of MacKenzie-Fort Smith in October 2013 to succeed then-Bishop Murray Chatlain (who had been appointed Archbishop of Keewatin-LePas). Hagemoen’s episcopal ordination and installation was celebrated in Yellowknife on Dec. 14, 2013.
As bishop, Hagemoen has worked with the people of the Mackenzie-Fort Smith diocese on a number of initiatives and projects, including the construction of a new church at Fort Simpson, NWT, replacing a 90-year-old building that was beyond repair. The new Sacred Heart Church will officially open Sept. 17, on the 30thanniversary of the papal visit of St. John Paul II to the community, about 500 km north of Yellowknife.
Hagemoen also currently serves on several committees of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), including the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council and the Northern Bishops Council.
Saskatoon Diocesan Administrator Rev. Kevin McGee says the appointment of Hagemoen is joyful news for the diocese of Saskatoon.
“We look forward to welcoming Bishop Mark Hagemoen,” says McGee. “I have no doubt that our new bishop-elect has been chosen through the work of the Holy Spirit – selected by the Holy Father to lead this vibrant diocese in proclaiming and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
McGee adds that it has been a privilege to serve as Diocesan Administrator for the past year, while the diocese has been without a bishop.
“There is certainly a lot of good ministry happening in our diocese – it is a place where clergy and laity work closely together, where we strive to walk in support of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, to engage closely with many Catholic, ecumenical and interfaith partners, and work in solidarity with the broader community for the common good,” he says.
“We give thanks to God for our new shepherd and look forward to his arrival."