Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Makenzie-Fort Smith sprinkles holy water on the faithful gathered for his ordination and installation Dec. 15.

B.C. CATHOLIC PHOTO | MALIN JORDAN

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Makenzie-Fort Smith sprinkles holy water on the faithful gathered for his ordination and installation Dec. 15.

January 20, 2014
AGNIESZKA KRAWCZYNSKI
THE B.C. CATHOLIC

An adventurous and dedicated priest has become the new shepherd of one of the largest and northernmost dioceses in the world.

Vancouver-born Bishop Mark Hagemoen was ordained in Yellowknife for the Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese Dec. 15.

"I look forward to my first pastoral priority: meeting and listening to the peoples of this vast and blessed diocese," the prelate said after his installation held in St. Patrick's School gymnasium in Yellowknife.

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan ordained Hagemoen, assisted by Archbishops Richard Smith of Edmonton and Michael Miller of Vancouver.

"We handed him over to the Diocese of Fort Smith when he was lying on his face prostrate," Miller said later. "At that moment the foundation where he was resting, which was Vancouver, was left behind."

The Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese, which includes the Northwest Territories, western Nunavut, and part of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, has 20,110 Catholics.

The faithful of that diocese include equal numbers of native and non-native people, so the episcopal ordination included music, language and other elements of native culture.

Archbishop Murray Chatlain, the previous bishop of the diocese, presented Hagemoen with rawhide vestments.

Chatlain, now archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas, said the biggest learning curve for Hagemoen will be "getting to know what it's like in our local communities. Life is very different in Deline or Tsiigehtchic."

However, the prelate added, "He's a very open guy and very up to challenges, so I think he'll be able to embrace the physical distances, the weather."

An avid hiker, Hagemoen was excited about his new role. "I look forward to being part of this adventure."