Perhaps it was preordained that Archbishop V. James Weisgerber would reach beyond the borders of the Saskatchewan village where he was born to make an impact on Canadian society. His compassion and courage to rebel against the status quo allowed him to go forth from Vibank, SK, to promote social justice and defend marginalized peoples.
He was ordained as priest fifty years ago and in that time he has served numerous prairie communities and parishes, even serving as Dean of Arts at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, SK. In Regina, he worked in the Archbishop's Office as director of the pastoral and social justice offices and served as Rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral and Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish. At Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Fort Qu’Appelle, he led the pastoral ministry in the neighboring First Nations’ reserves. In 1990, he was elected General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), a position he held until his ordination as the Bishop of Saskatoon. He was appointed the fifth Bishop of Saskatoon by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II on March 7, 1996, and named the sixth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg by Pope John Paul II on June 7, 2000. One of his first actions as Archbishop of Winnipeg was to establish Micah House on Main Street, a centre for the promotion of social justice.
Archbishop Weisgerber was instrumental in bridging the divide between the Catholic Church in Canada and Canada's Aboriginal Peoples, a divide which developed because of the abuse of Aboriginal Peoples in residential schools established by the Government of Canada and operated by the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Weisgerber worked tirelessly to bring about the meeting in Rome in April, 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI met with leaders of Canada's Aboriginal peoples at the Vatican to express his sorrow at the anguish caused by the conduct of some members of the Church. Archbishop Weisgerber did not allow the reconciliation process to stop here. Since 2009, he has been a driving force in setting up the Moving Forward Together campaign to encourage fundamental and lasting change to Aboriginal communities in Canada by supporting healing and educational programs. He currently co-chairs the campaign with Dr. Phil Fontaine. In recognition of his work to amplify First Nation voices, Archbishop Weisgerber was symbolically adopted by several First Nations Elders at a ceremony in 2012 that made him a brother to the First Nations community.
Archbishop Weisgerber was awarded the Notre Dame Medal of Honor in 1994 and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2005. He attended St. Peter's College at Muenster and then St. Paul's University in Ottawa. Today, he is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Manitoba for his visionary commitment to social change and justice.
Archbishop V. James Weisgerber