History of Our Diocese

St. Patrick's Cathedral - Thunder Bay

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay was erected in April 29, 1952, when Pope Pius Xll joined part of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface and part of the Sault Ste. Marie Diocese to form the new Diocese of Fort William. Bishop Edward Q. Jennings was transferred from Kamloops, B.C. to be the first Shepherd, appointed May 14, 1952. He was installed as Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Thunder Bay (Fort William at the time) in St. Patrick's church, named by Pope Pius as the Diocesan Cathedral, the traditional centre of a Bishop's administration. Bishop E. Jennings laid the foundation well on the Rock of Truth which is Christ and there followed a period of consolidation and expansion as the new Diocese grew in unity and strength.

The Diocese was dedicated May 31, 1955 to Our lady of Charity; the second patron is St. Patrick, officially approved in Rome by Pope Pius Xll, July 19, 1957.

In 1970 the name of the Diocese was changed to Thunder Bay when Bishop Norman J. Gallagher succeeded as the Chief Pastor on April 21.


This beloved prelate guided the Diocese for six years in a gentle, straightforward manner and under his care it continued to grow in giving witness to the love and concern of Christ for all. The local native people named him "Chief Bebaminwadjimo" which means "he who brings good news."

On July 21, 1976, Bishop John A. O'Mara was installed as Bishop of Thunder Bay. The local native people named him "Mishe Muckqua...Big Bear...Spiritual Leader" (May 6, 1978 at Gull Bay).

Through Bishop O'Mara's leadership, many educational programs were initiated to help consolidate the strength across the geographical distance. To further assist communication throughout the Diocese and network with parishes, he established the Northwestern Ontario Catholic newspaper.

On May 11, 1995, Bishop Frederick Henry was installed as the fourth Bishop of Thunder Bay. Bishop F. Henry is already well recognized for his pastoral presence, dynamic teaching skills in proclaiming the Gospel teaching, furthering communication ecumenically, and challenging public awareness to social injustice for the poor. He left the Diocese on March 9, 1998, to become Bishop of Calgary.

On February 2, 1999, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Fred J. Colli as the fifth Bishop of Thunder Bay. He was installed March 25, 1999, at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Patron Saints - Principal: Our Lady of Charity - Secondary: St. Patrick