Our Bishop

Bishop Frederick Joseph Colli, D.D.

As the Roman Catholic Church was about to enter the new millennium, the Most Reverend Frederick Joseph Colli became the fifth bishop of the Thunder Bay Diocese. "Jubilee Year 2000" was more than simply another "Holy Year" or a "year of remission". His Holiness Pope John Paul II saw it as a new beginning for all Christians. Bishop Colli explained it this way in his installation address delivered in St Patrick Cathedral on 25 March 1999:

The greatest challenge of our journey will lead us into the new millennium - in the new "era of faith". As our Holy Father has noted, it will be a time of struggle and testing as we promote the "culture of life" against the assaults of the culture of death in our world. It will challenge us to bear witness to Christ and the life He has shared with us, from our Baptism. It will be a challenge, and at the same time an opportunity to show to the world our faith and our trust in the Lord, and our cooperative spirit toward one anoth­er. It will be a challenge, but also a wonderful experience. I look forward to sharing that journey with you as a faith family here in our diocese.

Bishop Colli began sharing this journey by energetically and enthusiastically par­ticipating in the special events and liturgical celebrations of parishes and missions which extended across the vast expanse of north-western Ontario.

Frederick Joseph Colli was born in St Catharine’s, Ontario on 17 June 1949. After completing his Catholic elementary and secondary education there, he entered St Augustine's Seminary, Toronto in 1968 and seven years later was ordained to the priesthood by the Most Reverend Thomas J. McCarthy, Bishop of St Catharine’s, on 21 June 1975. Apart from a two-year interlude of post graduate study in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he earned a Masters Degree in Canon Law, Father Fred Colli served the St Catharines Diocese at the pastoral and administrative levels for almost two decades. He served first as associate pastor of St Theresa (Port Colborne) and St Kevin (Welland) parishes and then as pastor of St Julia Parish, St Catharine’s from 1985 to 1995. During this period, he was also Chancellor of the St Catharine’s Diocese and Associate Judicial Vicar of the Catholic Marriage Tribunal.

On 22 February 1995, the Feast of St Peter, in Ottawa's Notre Dame Cathedral, Father Frederick Colli was ordained a bishop by Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa. He became Auxiliary Bishop of Ottawa with specific respon­sibilities for the English sector of the Archdiocese.

Four years to the day of his episcopal ordination, the Most Reverend Frederick J. Colli was named Bishop of Thunder Bay by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Bishop Colli took possession of his diocese on 25 March 1999.

Bishop Frederick J. Colli's Coat of Arms

The crest is divided into two sections by a chevron. The upper half contains a "peace dove" which is a symbol from the crest of the Diocese of St Catharine’s, Bishop Colli's place of birth. The dove also represents Bishop Colli's first name which is "Frederick" and means "peaceful ruler." The Lily represents the Blessed Virgin Mary who was a faithful servant of God, and whose words are in the motto of Bishop Colli's crest, "Holy is God's Name," from Mary's great prayer, the Magnificat. The lower part of the crest contains a red cross, showing that a bishop is a servant of Jesus and the three hills at the bottom of the crest, represent the bishop's surname, "Colli", which means "hills".