James Morrison

James Morrison, Roman Catholic priest, professor, archbishop (b at Savage Harbour, PEI 9 July 1861; d at Antigonish, NS 13 April 1950).
James Morrison, Roman Catholic priest, professor, archbishop (b at Savage Harbour, PEI 9 July 1861; d at Antigonish, NS 13 April 1950).


Morrison, James

James Morrison, Roman Catholic priest, professor, archbishop (b at Savage Harbour, PEI 9 July 1861; d at Antigonish, NS 13 April 1950). The longest-serving Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, James Morrison guided the diocese for 38 years, during which time the foundations of the ANTIGONISH MOVEMENT were established. Morrison was educated at the Normal College, and St Dunstan's College in CHARLOTTETOWN, before attending the Urban College of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide in Rome, where he was ordained a priest on 1 November 1889.

As Rector of St Dunstan's College, Morrison successfully pursued affiliation with UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL in 1893. He was appointed Vicar-general of the Diocese of Charlottetown in 1904 and Apostolic Administrator in 1911. Consecrated as Bishop of ANTIGONISH in St Ninian's Cathedral on 4 September 1912, Morrison inherited a diocese that was suffering from internal discord and rapid industrialization. He played a vital role in establishing rights for Catholic chaplains during WORLD WAR I and attempted to intercede in the numerous disputes between labour and capital in industrial Cape Breton.

Although generally supportive of the clergy-intellectuals who were pursuing progressive agendas within the diocese, a feud with Reverend James J. TOMPKINS over university federation in 1922 damaged his historical image. Somewhat guarded and aloof, he was nonetheless a great advocate of ST FRANCIS XAVIER UNIVERSITY and supported the formation of the St F.X. Extension Department in 1928. James Morrison left a cautious yet indelible mark on the Antigonish Movement, and was rewarded with the title of personal archbishop in 1944. However, his decision to step back and allow his progressive priests to do their work is his greatest achievement. He received honorary degrees from Laval (1894) and St Francis Xavier (1905). When he died in 1950 James Morrison was the longest-serving Catholic prelate in Canada.


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