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History of the Diocese - Former Bishops

History of the Diocese of Grand Falls – Windsor, NL, Canada

(In chronological order)


1874 –

Newfoundland designated a Prefecture Apostolic on May 17th.  The Prefect Apostolic James Louis O'Donel arrives in September.


Right Reverend John Dalton, D. D.

May 25, 1856 - May 5, 1869

An Irish Franciscan priest, he was ordained in the Irish College, Rome.  He laboured in Carbonear for ten years, from 1846 to 1856 as the assistant to his uncle, Reverend Charles Dalton, the parish priest in Harbour Grace.  He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Harbour Grace in 1856 by Bishop Mullock of St. John's.  He died in 1869 at the age of 49.


Right Reverend Henry Carfagini, D. D.

May 22, 1870 - February 27, 1880

An Italian Franciscan, he came to Newfoundland as the first President of St. Bonaventure's College, St. John's, which was originally a seminary.  he designed the first Cathedral in Harbour Grace.  He was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Harbour Grace in 1870 at a ceremony in Rome.  He returned to Italy in 1880 to become the Archbishop of Gallipoli.


Right Reverend Ronald MacDonald, D. D.

August 21, 1881 - September 3, 1906

A native of Nova Scotia, he was a parish priest in Pictou before coming to Newfoundland in 1879.  His consecration as Bishop of the Diocese of Harbour Grace took place in Pictou in 1881.  After a fire destroyed the Cathedral in 1889, he oversaw the construction of a new Gothic-style cathedral in Harbour Grace.  He resigned as Bishop and returned to Nova Scotia in 1906.


Right Reverend John March, D. D.

November 4, 1906 - January 12, 1940

Bishop March was born and raised in Northern Bay, Newfoundland, eventually going on to seminary studies in Rome.  He was ordained in the Propaganda College in Rome in 1889 and was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Falls by Archbishop Howley at a ceremony in St. John's in 1906.  Bishop March instituted the first Council of the Knights of Columbus in Newfoundland.  He died in Harbour Grace in 1940.



Most Reverend John M. O'Neill, D. D.

July 7, 1940 - November 23, 1972

Born in Harbour Grace in 1903, he studied at St. Bonaventure's in St. John's before going on to seminary studies at Laval University in Quebec City where he graduated in 1927 with the degree Doctor of Divinity.  After thirteen years of priestly service in various parishes throughout the Diocese, he was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Harbour Grace at the Cathedral in Harbour Grace in 1940.  During his tenure as Bishop, the seat of the Diocese was translated to Grand Falls, the church there being elevated to the rank of Cathedral in 1953.  The newly-built Cathedral in Grand Falls was consecrated in 1965 and the name of the diocese was changed to the Diocese of Grand Falls.  Bishop O'Neill retired in 1972 and died on March 2, 1974.


Most Reverend Alphonsus L. Penney, D. D.

January 18, 1973 - April 5, 1979

Born in St. John's in 1924, he studied for the priesthood at St. Paul's University, Ottawa and was ordained in 1949 for the Archdiocese of St. John's.  He served as a parish priest in various parishes throughout the Archdiocese from 1949 until 1973, when he was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Falls.  He was consecrated Bishop in the Cathedral at Grand Falls by Most Reverend Guido del Mestri, Apostolic Delegate to Canada.  In 1979, he accepted an appointment as the Archbishop of St. John's.


Most Reverend Joseph Faber MacDonald

March 19, 1980 - October 28, 1998

Born in Little Pond, PEI in 1932, he worked with the Royal Bank of Canada from 1950-1956 and attained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from St. Dunstan's University in 1959.  He began studies at St. Paul's Seminary, Ottawa in 1959 and was ordained in 1963 as a priest for the Diocese of Charlottetown.  He served as parish priest in various parishes throughout the Diocese of Charlottetown for the next seventeen years and was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Falls at a ceremony at St. Dunstan's Basilica, Charlottetown on March 19, 1980.  he served as Bishop of the Diocese until 1998 when he received an appointment as the Bishop of the Diocese of Saint John, New Brunswick.


Most Reverend Martin William Currie, D. D.

January 31, 2001 - March 1, 2011


Born in Sheet Harbour, NS in 1943, he studied at St. Francis Xavier University, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1964. He began studies in the Seminary in Halifax in 1964 and was ordained to the priesthood in Sheet Harbour on May 12, 1968. From 1968-1974, Fr. Currie served as assistant in St. Patrick’s Parish, Halifax and St. Charles Parish, Amherst. From 1975-1980 he served in the Arch-diocesan mission parish of San Jose Obrero, Chiclayo, Peru. He has served in the positions of Chaplain, Chancellor, Vicar General, Administrator of the Archdiocese of Halifax. as well as many board positions.  On December 12, 2000, Msgr. Currie was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Falls.  Upon his Episcopal Ordination on January 31, 2001, he became the 8th bishop of the Diocese.  During 2006-2007, he was named Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Saint John, NB.  Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Currie as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. John's, NL.  He was installed as Archbishop on November 30, 2007, while still serving as Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Falls until the appointment of Most Reverend Robert Anthony Daniels on March 1, 2011.



The End.

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