History of The Diocese

Diocese MapThe Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish comprises the 7 counties of Northeastern Nova Scotia, these are three counties on the mainland (Antigonish, Pictou and Guysborough Counties) as well as all of Cape Breton Island (Richmond, Inverness, Victoria and Cape Breton Counties), Nova Scotia, Canada. The Seat of the Diocese is located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, at St. Ninian Cathedral with the Chancery Office located in that community. However, the Pastoral Center (administrative headquarters) is located in Sydney, Nova Scotia (Diocesan Pastoral Centre, P.O. Box 100, Sydney, NS B1P 6G9).

Originally, the Diocese was a part of the Diocese of Quebec (which included all of what is now known as Canada during the 17th and 18th Centuries) and later a part of the Diocese of Halifax upon its establishment. Missionaries from the Diocese of Quebec continued to visit Cape Breton to minister to the needs of the French communities scattered throughout Northern Nova Scotia.

The Diocese of Arichat, the original name of our diocese, was established on September 22, 1844 with the original seat of the Diocese being at Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Cathedral, in Arichat, Richmond County, Cape Breton Island. The seat of the diocese was transfered to Antigonish around 1886 and it happened under Bishop Cameron. From the very beginning the Diocese of Antigonish and the founding and development of St. Francis Xavier University have been very much interwoven. Notable among this was the role of Fr. Moses Coady and Fr. Jimmy Tompkins within the life of the Diocese, the University, and the wider community of both Nova Scotia and Canada. During this period, our diocese was known as a centre for social thought and action.

The Diocese of Antigonish is a rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions. Core to the history of the diocese is the presence of the First Nation - Mi'Kmaq People. There are six Mi'Kmaq communities in the Diocese, with the community of Eskasoni being the largest First Nation community east of Montreal. The history of the Mi'Kmaq people is very much connected to the development of the diocese and this continues through to the present time.

Cabot TrailIn addition, there is a rather significant population of Acadians located in various communities throughout the Diocese. Richmond County's Isle Madame is an area of our diocese rich in the history, flavour, and tradition of the Acadian People. As well, the communities of Cheticamp and parts of the Margaree area on the west coast of Cape Breton Island have strong and vibrant Acadian populations.

The Diocese is a merging of peoples from almost every nation on earth - beside the presence of the Mi'Kmaq people and the numerous Acadians, the population of the Diocese has grown with an influx of Scots, Irish, Ukrainian, Polish, and peoples who have settled in Northern Nova Scotia and have maintained a strong sense of their own traditions and heritage.

There are several religious communities of Sisters whose commitment and presence have strongly influenced the development and history of the Diocese of Antgonish. The Congregation of Notre Dame, the Sister of Charity,the Sisters of St. Martha, and the Filles de Jesus all continue to serve the people of our diocese. Also present in our diocese is Our Lady of Grace Monastery which is now operated by members of the Maronite Order.

Bishops of the Diocese:
Right Rev. William Fraser, D.D., consecrated Bishop of Tanes and Vicar-Apostolic of Nova Scotia in 1827: first Bishop of Arichat, Sept.21, 1844; died in 1851;
Right Rev. Colin Francis MacKinnon, D.D., consecrated Feb.27,1852; resigned and appointed Titular-Archbishop of Amida July 17, 1877; died Sept. 26.1879:
Right Rev. John Cameron, D.D., consecrated Bishop of Titopolis and Coadjutor-Bishop of Arichat May 22, 1870: Bishop of Arichat, July 17.1877; transferred to Antigonish Aug. 23, 1886; died Apr. 6. 1910;
Most Rev. James Morrison, D.D., consecrated Bishop of Antigonish Sept. 4.1912; appointed Archbishop Feb.26. 1944; died Apr.13.1950;
Most Rev. John R. MacDonald, D.D., consecrated Bishop of Peterborough,Ontario, Aug. 24.1943: appointed Titular Bishop of Ancusa and Coadjutor-Bishop of Antigonish with right of succession Mar. 3.1945: succeeded to the See Apr.13. 1950; died Dec. 18.1959;
Most Rev. William Edward Power, D.D., consecrated Bishop of Antigonish July 20, 1960: installed August 10,1960: resigned December 17,1986. Bishop Power died in late November 2003.
Most Rev. Colin Campbell, D.D., Litt.D. Born: Antigonish. N.S., June 12, 1931; Ordained May 26, 1956; Named Bishop of Antigonish December 17, 1986; Consecrated March 19, 1987. Resident in Bedford, NS. Motto: TUTORE TE CHRISTE
Most Rev. Raymond John Lahey, D.D., Litt.D. Born: Born Saint Johnís, Newfoundland., May 29, 1940; Ordained June 13, 1963; Ordained Bishop of Saint Georgeís, Newfoundland,3 Aug 1986; Installed as Bishop of Antigonish, Jun 12, 2003; Resigned Sep 26, 2009.

Most Rev. Brian Joseph DUNN, D.D., Litt.D.

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