TORONTO – About 1,200 people attended the installation ceremony of the new Archbishop of Toronto, Frank Leo, in Saint Michael’s Cathedral in the city center on Saturday, about six weeks after the formal appointment by Pope Francis: Leo succeeds thus officially to Cardinal Thomas Collins, who tendered his resignation on his 75th birthday in January 2022 in accordance with a rule stipulating that all bishops must resign when they reach that age.
Leo said his appointment as Archbishop of Toronto was “a surprise, but a welcome one. I look forward to giving the rest of my life as a spiritual leader here from a symbolic and spiritual perspective. When you become a Bishop, you receive a ring and it is a spousal relationship”, Leo told Omni News. The Archbishop himself then underlined, among other things, the importance of the role played by Catholic schools, which he defined as “a gift”.
During his speech, Leo spoke also in Italian, to thank “the members of my family present here, as well as to my family members, friends, parishioners and faithful of the Italian community of Montreal who came here and then to those who follow us through social media”. And then again, speaking of the times of his enrollment in the seminary in Montreal, he recalled – also in Italian – the words addressed to him by Father Luigi Testa who, complimenting him on his choice, said to him: “There is nothing more better than giving your youth to the Lord”. “I can still hear him saying those words in Italian” said a very moved Leo.
Leo also emphasized his italian roots when he mentioned that he is “the son of Italian immigrants from the old country where respect, sacrifice, hard work, family, faith, and taking care of one another were and remain vital”.
Born in Montreal in 1971 to Italian immigrant parents (Francesco Leo and Rosa Valente), Leo entered the Grand Seminary of Montreal in 1990 and was ordained a priest for service to the city’s archdiocese in 1996. Leo has held various parish assignments in Montréal until 2006 when he accepted the invitation to enroll in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome and subsequently in the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See (2006-2012), serving in various Apostolic Nunciatures around the world. In January 2012 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Chaplain of His Holiness giving him the title of Monsignor. Upon his return to Canada, Archbishop Leo joined the formation team of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, teaching theology and philosophy and providing spiritual direction, formation and accompaniment to candidates for the priesthood. In the fall of 2015 he was appointed secretary general of the Canadian Episcopal Conference, a mandate which ended in the fall of 2021. Since 1 February 2022, Monsignor Leo has been appointed vicar general and moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Montreal. On July 16, 2022, Pope Francis appointed him auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Montreal. His consecration as bishop took place on September 12, 2022. He is now archbishop of Toronto.
His curriculum of studies is impressive: in addition to his in-depth university studies in Canon Law (Lateran University), Diplomacy and International Law, Archbishop Leo is also specialized in Systematic Theology, Mariology, Philosophy Classical Studies and Spiritual Direction. He has taught not only in Canada but also in Australia and the USA and speaks four languages: Italian, Spanish, English and French.
In the pics above: the new Archbishop of Toronto, Frank Leo, in Saint Michael’s Cathedral; in the pic below, Leo with Giordano Basilio (Publisher of the Italian newspaper “Cittadino Canadese”) and wife; at the bottom, the video of the ceremony