Catholic Vancouver Feb. 22, 2018

Albertan to replace retiring Nelson Bishop Corriveau

By Agnieszka Ruck

Bishop Gregory Bittman will be installed the new bishop of Nelson April 25.

The bishop who has faithfully guided the Diocese of Nelson, B.C., for a decade is retiring.

Bishop John Corriveau, 76, is stepping out of his office saying while he’s no longer at the helm, he will always be a priest.

“When I was a young man, the Lord called me to be his disciple in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. I made a perpetual vow to live and serve the Gospel as a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order,” he told The B.C. Catholic shortly after the announcement.

Now, he says, “I return to my original call to live and serve the Gospel as a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Order,” as he has done for the last 54 years.

“We never retire from the call to serve the Gospel of Jesus.”

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Gregory Bittman, an auxiliary bishop of Edmonton for six years, to take his place.

Bishop Bittman, 56, was ordained a priest in 1996 at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Edmonton. He served in a handful of parishes before he was appointed archdiocesan chancellor in 2000.

Now, he’ll take on a brand-new task: being the spiritual shepherd of about 78,000 Catholics in B.C.’s Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

“The Diocese of Nelson welcomes you with great joy,” said outgoing Bishop Corriveau in a message to Bishop Bittman.

“We are grateful that you responded with such generosity to Pope Francis’ invitation to serve the people and the 50 or more faith communities of our diocese.”

Alberta will miss Bishop Greg, wrote Edmonton’s Archbishop Richard Smith on his blog.

“Bishop Greg has served God’s people with devotion, warmth, and joy. For me personally, he has been my most trusted adviser, and I have relied heavily and confidently upon his counsel.”

 Those reasons will make it hard for Archbishop Smith to say goodbye to Bishop Bittman, but “those same reasons lead us to rejoice for the people of the Diocese of Nelson.”

He added Catholics in Nelson can expect to find Bishop Bittman in the church, office, or on a jogging trail. The incoming bishop is also known to enjoy playing piano, skiing, and doting on his 10 nieces and nephews.

Bishop Bittman will be officially installed as the seventh Bishop of Nelson April 25.