Bishop Francis Spence

Born at Perth, Ontario in 1926
Bishop of the Diocese of Charlottetown: 1970-1982

Bishop Francis was graduate of the University of Toronto. He studied theology at St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto and was ordained to the priesthood in 1950 for the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario. Father Spence then studied for three years in Rome where he received a doctorate in Canon Law. Back home, he served as curate, as Archbishop’s secretary and in collateral assignments. He had the special privilege of attending all sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) as theological assistant to his archbishop. While pastor at Marmora Father Spence was named auxiliary bishop to the military vicar and was consecrated in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kingston in 1967.

This posting carried a steady round of visitations to military bases in Canada and Europe. In 1970 Bishop Spence was appointed Bishop of Charlottetown, his installation taking place in St. Dunstan’s Basilica that September. He still retained his commitments to the military which added noticeably to his workload here.

The Spence years on the Island were busy with implementing much of the vision of the Second Vatican Council in the fields of liturgy, family life, youth, social action, religious education, ecumenism and canon law. Several significant anniversaries happened during these years. In 1972 the bicentennial of the arrival of the Scottish Catholic Glenaladale settlers was fittingly observed. In 1973 the centennial of our province was honoured with a largely attended Mass in the S.D.U. rink. In 1979 the diocese celebrated its 150th anniversary in many significant ways, highlighted by a large outdoor Mass at Victoria Park with Cardinal Roy of Quebec as presider. Other noteworthy events also took place.

In 1975 the Redemptorist Fathers departed from Holy Redeemer Parish after nearly a half century there. In 1978 the new parish of Cornwall was formed. In 1980 Bishop Faber MacDonald was consecrated in St. Dunstan’s Basilica following his appointment as Bishop of Grand Falls, Newfoundland. In 1981 the Charlottetown Hospital closed after 102 years of faithful service.  In the spring of 1982 Bishop Spence was named Archbishop of Kingston, Ontario, retiring in 2002 but remaining active.