Born at Whycocomagh, Cape Breton in 1925
Bishop of the Diocese of Charlottetown: 1982-1991
After graduating from St. Joseph’s College in Memramcook, Bishop James studied theology at Holy Cross Seminary in St. Genevieve, Quebec. In 1953 he was ordained to the priesthood at Woodstock, Ontario as a religious order priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
Father MacDonald held a number of positions within the Congregation, including their preaching mission band, teacher at St. Joseph’s University high school in New Brunswick, superior of Holy Cross House of Studies in Fredericton and director of personnel for the Holy Cross Fathers. He then served for eight years as pastor of St. Michael’s Parish in Waterloo, Ontario.
In 1978 Father MacDonald was named auxiliary bishop of Hamilton, Ontario and was consecrated in Christ the King Cathedral there that April. In 1982 he was appointed Bishop of Charlottetown and was installed in St. Dunstan’s Basilica in October. In 1983 the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated with many applications for parishes and dioceses. The Canada-wide tour of Pope John Paul II in 1984 brought many from P.E.I. to papal celebrations in Moncton and Halifax. That same year was the 100th anniversary of the Acadian flag, an event remembered with a large outdoor Mass at Miscouche where the flag had been designed. Also that same year Bishop MacDonald moved his residence to York Point while transferring all diocesan offices into Dun Glaston making it the Diocesan Pastoral Centre.
In 1985 Sister Lauretta White, C.S.M., was appointed Chancellor of the diocese, the first woman to hold that office here. By the mid 1980s the restored catechumenate (RCIA) became implanted in our diocese with the assistance of two major institutes on that topic held here. During that same time line the Third Rite of Penance (general absolution) was permitted for use in Canada and elsewhere.
The year 1988 marked the 1000th anniversary of the death of St. Dunstan which was fittingly observed here. In the late 1980s the diocese inaugurated annual fall conferences on Church-related topics and annual Scripture Institutes each summer. In 1990 the diocese implemented a grand fundraising campaign extending over several years. Early in 1991 Bishop MacDonald was appointed Archbishop of St. John’s, Newfoundland. After ten years there, he retired to Windsor, Ontario where he remains active in many ways.