Pope Benedict XVI has named Most Rev. Murray Chatlain as the next archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas. The archdiocesan seat and Bishop's House for the archdiocese is at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in The Pas.
The archdiocese takes in some 430,000 square kilometres and comprises the northern parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The farthest point west is La Loche, Sask., near the Alberta border. The farthest point north is Lac Brochet here in Manitoba and the farthest point east is Sandy Lake in Northwestern Ontario.
The Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas has 45 parishes and missions, with a Catholic population of 37,380. Four diocesan priests, 11 religious-order priests and seven religious women serve it. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) established the first mission at Ile-à-la-Crosse, Sask. in 1860.
Archbishop-elect Chatlain, 49, currently resides in Yellowknife and has been the bishop of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, located primarily in the Northwest Territories, but also dipping slightly into northern Saskatchewan and extending into western Nunavut, since May 10, 2008, after Pope Benedict had named him named on June 23, 2007 coadjutor bishop of the diocese, which covers about 1.5 million square kilometres and has about 25,000 Catholics, and is made up of about an equal number of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.
The Vatican, in announcing Chatlain's new appointment to the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas in Rome Dec. 6, said the Pope had asked him to remain as apostolic administrator of Mackenzie-Fort Smith until a new bishop is named for that diocese. That is expected to take at least six months.
Chatlain succeeds Most Rev. Sylvain Lavoie, a professed Oblate from the order Les Oblats de Marie Immaculée, or The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.), whose resignation had been accepted by the Pope July 16 for reasons of health. Since then, Father William Stang, O.M.I., vicar general and chancellor for the archdiocese, has served as the apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese Keewatin-Le Pas.
Lavoie, 65, resigned pursuant to canon 401, §2, because he had become less able to fulfill his office "because of ill health or some other grave cause."
He had been on medical leave since last December at the time of his resignation last July. He was archbishop for almost 6½ years, shepherding a primarily First Nations flock, as he has done for most of his 36 years as a priest. Lavoie was ordained a priest in 1974 and on July 11, 2005, Lavoie was appointed coadjutor archbishop for the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas and in less than nine months fully succeeded Archbishop Peter Sutton, who retired to Ottawa, on March 25, 2006.
Chatlain turns 50 next month. He was born in Saskatoon and earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Saskatchewan before entering St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ont. where he completed a master of divinity degree.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Saskatoon in 1987, and pastored parishes in the diocese as well as parishes in northern Saskatchewan that are part of the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith.
Since 2008, he has been a member of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He studied Dene at La Loche, Sask., which is in the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.