James Morrison (bishop)

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Archbishop James Morrison (July 9, 1861 – April 13, 1950) was the longest-serving bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. Although one of the last powerful and austere Roman Catholic bishops in Canada, Morrison presided over a diocese that created one of the most successful Catholic social movements in Canada.

Morrison strictly adhered to the statutes of the Roman Catholic faith. Extremely skeptical of debt, he was cautious in all matters relating to church finances. As Bishop of Antigonish he gained the ire of Rev. James Tompkins and other priests for refusing to allow St. Francis Xavier University to join a non-denominational university in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Although highly respected by the Catholic community, his cautious and frugal nature did not always foster tranquility.

Brief biography[edit]

James Morrison was born in the rural village of Savage Harbour, Prince Edward Island. He was educated at the Charlottetown Normal College and at St. Dunstan's University from 1882-1884. He attended the Urban College of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide in Rome from 1884-1889. Ordained for the Diocese of Charlottetown, Morrison held numerous positions, including Rector of St. Dunstan’s University, 1892 – 1895, Vicar-general, 1904-1912 and formal diocesan administrator, 1911-1912.

Father Morrison had been Vicar General, in the diocese of Charlottetown, P.E.I, Canada, when in 1908, Bishop MacDonald became a complete invalid. At this point Morrison assumed administrative control of the diocese until the latter part of 1912. When Rev. MacDonald died in 1912, Bishop O’Leary succeeded, whilst Fr Morrison was further ordained Bishop in September 1912.

Consecrated as Bishop of Antigonish on 4 September 1912, Morrison took over a diocese that was riddled with economic and political turmoil and wholly unprepared for the challenges of the twentieth century. He guided the diocese through two world wars, the challenges of economic decline, emigration and industrial unrest. He supported and fostered the St. Francis Xavier University extension department, which aspired to alleviate some of the economic and social problems of the Maritime Provinces. He was appointed Archbishop in 1944.

When he died in 1950 he was the longest-serving of all Canadian Catholic prelates. From a historical perspective Morrison was one of an extremely few native born, pre- Confederation (1867) Canadians to later become an archbishop.

Career highlights[edit]

References[edit]

  • A.A. Johnston, A History of the Catholic Church in Eastern Nova Scotia, Volume 1, 2 (Antigonish: St. F.X. press, 1960, 1971).
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Cameron
Bishop of Antigonish
1912–1950
Succeeded by
John Roderick MacDonald