When I was first nominated Bishop, one of my first tasks was to design a Coat of Arms. Having helped Bishop Christian when he tackled this project two years ago, I wasn’t completely ignorant of the process, but I still had a lot to learn. I quickly discovered that the laws of heraldry are very carefully preserved and enforced! But aside from the actual particulars there is something far more important to decide - something requiring careful prayer and deliberation. A bishop’s Coat of Arms is supposed to represent the primary elements of his episcopal mission and his personal spiritual priorities. It was a surprisingly fruitful exercise that really helped me to sharpen my own sense of the call. In the end I felt like I had expressed what a Coat of Arms should express – my heart and my mission.
The Celtic cross standing above the shield represents my Scottish heritage. The Celtic emphasis on the majestic splendour of the Almighty Triune God, his reflection in the beauty of creation, and on the realities of spiritual warfare has always defined my own relationship to him. Likewise the threefold division of the shield represents the Trinity: the God who is lover, beloved, and the love between them – who made us to enjoy forever his infinite love. This is the ultimate source and primary motive (thus the background) of my whole life and mission.
"The central Cross is the symbol of the Companions of the Cross. It represents the victory of Jesus Christ Crucified, who was and remains the power and the wisdom of God. The colour red signifies the precious blood which was poured out for our salvation and that, as the Risen Lord of all creation, he gives to us in the Eucharist. St. Paul perfectly expresses why I put the cross in the centre when he says, 'To me, life is Christ' (Phil 1:21). I have worn this cross since my first temporary promises in 1990 so it also represents for me my ongoing commitment to the brothers, my spiritual father in Christ, Fr. Bob, and my unity with the life and mission of the Society."
The golden star represents Mary, the Star of the Sea (Stella Maris). As ancient mariners navigated by the North Star, it is Mary who guides us to the safe harbour of the heart of Jesus. Pope St. John Paul the Great confirmed this in our time when
he named her the ‘Star of the New Evangelization’. She is our constant Mother, Protectress, and Intercessor. It has always been my experience that the closer I get to Mary, the closer I get to Jesus! My consecration to Jesus through Our Lady is foundational to everything that I am and everything that I do.
The sword and divided cape is the symbol of St. Martin or Tours, the Patron of the Canadian Catholic Military Ordinariate that I now serve as bishop. He was a fourth century convert to Christianity who served as a soldier in his early life. As a catechumen he used his sword to cut his cloak in half and gave one half to a poor man. Later it was revealed to him that he had given it to Christ. Ordained a priest he was a tireless evangelist and defender of the faith. Eventually consecrated a bishop he spent his life in compassionate service to God and his Church. I pray that I can emulate his limitless zeal and kindness.
For my episcopal motto I chose Juxta Crucem Cum Maria, which means “Near the Cross with Mary.” The inspiration comes from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta who found herself next to the Cross and by Our Lady’s side in an apparition in 1947. As a result of this event she often exhorted, “With great love and trust stand with Our Lady near the Cross. What a gift of God.” I hope to emulate all that this motto entails: union with the Passion of Jesus for God’s greater glory, slaking the thirst of Jesus through ardent prayer and charity, and help- ing to draw all people to him who was lifted up on the Cross as was the serpent in the desert (Jn 3:14). I wholeheartedly believe Mother Teresa’s promise that “if we stand with Our Lady, she will give us her spirit of loving trust, total surrender, and cheerfulness.”
Please pray for me that I will always faithfully embody all that this Coat of Arms represents!