Fr. Paul Terrio
The phone call to Father Paul Terrio inviting him to come to Ottawa to meet with the apostolic nuncio came on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day.
Familiar with what likely meant – an appointment by the Holy Father to be a bishop, Terrio said he spent his time on the airplane working on a way to say “no.”
“I thought I was at an age when I’m getting too old for this sort of thing,” the 69-year-old bishop-elect of St. Paul told reporters.
“I was really surprised. I didn’t expect this at all.”
However, the nuncio, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana was wearing his slippers when he greeted Terrio at the door.
“He spoke of prayer first,” Terrio said. “The witness of a man of prayer you take seriously.”
“He said, ‘This is what the Church is calling you to and there are real needs at this time.’ I said, ‘I’ve been ordained to serve God’s people.’ I made the sign of the cross and then I said ‘yes.’”
So it was that Terrio, a native of Montreal and a priest who has served in the Edmonton Archdiocese for the past 18 years, accepted his appointment as bishop of St. Paul.
The appointment was announced Oct. 18, the feast of St. Luke, and Terrio will be ordained and installed as the seventh bishop of St. Paul Dec. 12 in St. Paul Cathedral. Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith will preside at the liturgy.
The diocese has been without a bishop since February when Bishop Luc Bouchard was appointed bishop of Trois Rivieres, Quebec.
Terrio, currently president of Newman Theological College and archdiocesan vocations director, has served on the formation team at St. Joseph Seminary and as pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in Villeneuve and Holy Trinity Parish in Stony Plain-Spruce Grove.
Following his ordination in 1970, he served as associate pastor at the Montreal cathedral and a religious education professor at the College de Montreal.
He joined the Sulpician Fathers, an order which specializes in the training of seminarians. The Sulpicians sent him to serve at a seminary in Brasilia, Brazil, from 1983 until 1994. He also studied at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1986 to 1988.
Terrio, above all, considers himself to be a parish priest.
“I love being a parish priest and a pastor,” he said. “Being a priest with people, being a pastor, is what it’s all about.”
He goes to the St. Paul Diocese, which includes the major centre of Fort McMurray, with no preconceptions. “I am going there to serve as I learn and learn as I serve.”