Bishop John Corriveau

Bishop John Corriveau

August 29, 2011
BRENT MATTSON
THE B.C. CATHOLIC

NELSON, B.C. — When Bishop John Corriveau first took his post in the Diocese of Nelson he faced the challenge of ministering to a widely dispersed flock.

The diocese — which runs from Princeton, up to Golden, over to the Alberta border and down along the 49th parallel — stretches over highly mountainous terrain.

"It's difficult to speak about geographic centres in the mountains," Corriveau said. "The geographic centre of the diocese is probably some eagle's nest."

Preferring people over birds, Corriveau has built the diocese's new pastoral centre in the demographic centre of the diocese, the Okanagan.

Having a larger Catholic population than the Kootenays, it was an obvious choice for the bishop. There are also more services, including an international airport.

The new building includes the chancery office and diocesan offices, plus the school board office, but don't expect to see other changes in the diocese any time soon.

"We're not touching the cathedral," Corriveau said. "We remain the Diocese of Nelson, but the administration will work out of Kelowna."

Corriveau, who drives 3,500 to 4,000 km per month, still has a residence at the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, as well as a home on the pastoral centre property. This will allow him to work out of Nelson when doing business in the Kootenays and work out of Kelowna for the Okanagan.

For the past 12 years diocesan staff have worked out of the former monastery of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Nelson.

"In the early years they paid the taxes and even the insurance and we used it rent free," Corriveau said.

"Justice demanded this not remain as a long-term practice. After some studying and research we decided the best solution was to build our own office centre, built for our needs and return the monastery to the sisters."

Nelson's Church of Mary Immaculate was officially dedicated in 1899, then raised to cathedral status by Pope Pius XI in 1936.