New Archbishop of Toronto pledges 'all my heart' to new ministry
By Christopher Wells
Bishop Frank Leo was appointed auxiliary Bishop of Montreal just five months ago – and so, he says, it was “a big surprise” to receive a call from the Apostolic Nuncio in January, informing him that the Holy Father intended to name him as Archbishop of Toronto.
But, he said, “I’m happy to be able to serve… that’s the important thing.”
Saying ‘yes’ to serving to the Lord
In an interview with Vatican News, Bishop Leo said that he looked to the image of Mary as he prayed and discerned about his new calling. Taking her as his model, he considered what the Church was asking of him through the Holy Father.
“I really looked at the image of our Blessed Mother and how she must have felt and received her Annunciation in Nazareth, and the gamut of emotions that she went through; and at the end she gave her ‘Fiat’,” the Bishop said. “And so I, too, said my ‘yes’ to continue to serve the Lord in this new ministry.”
The Archbishop-elect has a close connection to the Blessed Mother, having specialized in Marian studies during for his licentiate and doctorate in theology. His nomination to the Archdiocese of Toronto was announced on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and his installation in the See will take place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
Discerning the signs of the times
Asked about his priorities for in his new ministry, Bishop Leo said, “I’m there to discern. I’m there to observe. I’m there to, first of all, take stock of what is already going on.”
He explained, “The Holy Spirit is the protagonist building up the Body of Christ, the first evangelizer. So what is the Holy Spirit doing? How is He present? How is He active?” The Archbishop-elect said it will be a priority for him and his collaborators to “discern the signs of the signs of the times.”
He added, “For me, the whole concept of charisms is key, the charisms that the Holy Spirit gives all members of the Body of Christ – clergy, laity, consecrated – helping everyone to discern and call forth a greater generosity and bringing those charisms to the larger community again, to build up the Body of Christ.”
A grace-filled moment
The path of discernment corresponds with the ongoing synodal process undertaken by the Church under Pope Francis. Bishop Leo said the synodal journey is “a grace-filled moment of learning to walk together, learning to discern together, learning to make decisions together, and see what’s already there, rejoicing in it, celebrating it, and letting ourselves be challenged together.”
That walking together, he continued, involves humility and moments of conversion, as well as “a lot of courage” in order to respond to the call to give “even more of ourselves,” the call to “greater love, to greater selflessness, to greater humility, so that the Holy Spirit may work in and through us, and build up the Body of Christ.”
The nuptial aspect of episcopal ministry
Archbishop-elect Leo said he is “excited and happy” to assume his new ministry in Canada’s largest city, saying it is “an opportunity to grow in my faith” and “share.”
Ahead of his installation in March, Bishop Leo highlighted the “nuptial” aspect of the episcopacy. “One key element in my understanding [of the episcopate], and that of Holy Mother Church, is that a bishop is wedded, he is married to his diocese, and I take that very seriously.”
He added, “I want to be a loyal husband and a loyal father, a spiritual father. And so I see my ministry in those nuptial terms, if you will, as a giving, loving, selfless father and husband, ready to make sacrifices for the good of his family.”
Calling to mind the image of the Church as the bride of Christ, he emphasized the qualities of “fidelity and loyalty, of selfless, unconditional love and self-sacrifice for the good of the family.”
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