It was in 1962 that Cardinal Paul-Emile Leger asked a fluently bilingual Rev. Leonard Crowley to begin coordinating services and activities for Montreal’s English-speaking faithful. In 1971, Rev. Crowley was named Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal and Director of the Office for English Language Affairs (OELA).
Always willing to “encourage individual initiative” and under the implementation of Vatican 2, Bishop Crowley organized and strengthened the English-speaking parishes in Montreal and encouraged increase participation of lay people in liturgical duties. In 1972, sensing a change in the political landscape of the province, Bishop Crowley conceived the Pillars Trust Fund. As Honorary Chairman of Pillars for 25 years, Bishop Crowley called upon volunteers from the business world, clergy and parishes to serve on its Board.
Remembering our Founder – Bishop Leonard J. Crowley
Pillars encouraged the English-speaking Catholic community of Montreal to take financial responsibility for their apostolic, religious educational and spiritual welfare. By the end of his tenure (23 years) as Director of OELA, Bishop Crowley had helped establish more that 20 programs and services, including the Catholic Times, Montreal Catholic Counselling and the English Speaking Catholic Council to name a few. For over two decades with tolerance and vision Bishop Crowley faithfully led, served and represented the needs of Montreal’s 250,000 English-speaking Catholics to church and government leaders through an era of political change and through a steady decline in church influence.
Looking back on his time as head of the OELA he remarked, “The faithful people still fill our churches. It’s a good sign – a sign that we’re willing to serve others.”