“If I’m putting together my resume, I start with the 15 years I was a pastor,” said Miehm, who has served as Auxiliary Bishop of Hamilton since 2013. “That, I think, was most formative for me in the way I will be a bishop.
“As a pastor, you have the care of souls,” he said. “As a bishop you have the care of souls. That’s the most relevant job experience, I think.”
Miehm said he will work out his priorities “in dialogue with the priests, religious and lay people of the diocese.”
But first he will build relationships with his priests.
“A bishop has to be a brother and father to his priests,” said Miehm. “I think that’s so very important. They are my closest collaborators.
“I think it’s important I get to know them and that they get to know me and trust me as a brother and father and we join together pastorally and collegially in pastoring the diocese.”
He also intends to visit the 40 parishes plus missions in the diocese, which has a Catholic population of 99,785 with 61 diocesan priests, 12 religious priests, 72 religious sisters and two brothers, according to the CCCB’s 2017 directory.
Born in Kitchener, Ont., in 1960 and ordained to the priesthood in May 1989 for the Hamilton diocese, Miehm studied at St. Jerome’s College of the University of Waterloo, St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto and at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. He studied canon law at the request of his bishop.
“Is it the first thing I would have chosen to study? Maybe not,” he said. “But we don’t write our own tickets in the Church.”
He obtained a licentiate in canon law in 1996 from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
He considers his two years in Rome as a “tremendous opportunity” and subsequently served “happily and probably capably” doing marriage tribunal work as a Judge and Defender of the Bond for the Hamilton diocese’s Office of the Toronto Regional Tribunal from 1996 to 2012.
Miehm credits his vocation to the priesthood to growing up in a strong Catholic family. His parents met through the Legion of Mary, which helped pair up young Catholic men and women long before “Catholic Singles” and “Christian Mingle,” he joked.
Another influence on his vocation was his aunt, who belonged to the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Through her, he said, he saw “religious life was productive and happy and really doing good work.”
But perhaps the strongest influence was Msgr. Bill O’Brien, the founding pastor of his parish in Kitchener.
“He was a man of considerable energy and a very strong, forceful presence,” he said. “I had the privilege of being the celebrant of his funeral Mass last year and reflecting on his life.”
In his 15 years as a pastor, Miehm served at Our Lady of Lourdes in Hamilton, St. Ann’s Parish in Ancaster and, briefly, as founding pastor of St. Benedict’s Parish in Milton.
“I found that very exciting work, pioneering work, saying Mass in a school gym,” he said.
After less than a year with St. Benedict’s, however, he was “plucked out” and made Auxiliary Bishop of Hamilton in February 2013.
Miehm said he knew auxiliary bishops in Ontario would be under consideration for Peterborough when Bishop William McGrattan was named to Calgary, “but I didn’t think my number was quite up, so I was surprised at the Nuncio’s call.”
“I was certainly heartened and gladdened and ready to accept it,” he said.
(Story updated March 14, 2017)