Vale Rev Frank Morrisey OMI

28 May 2020 by

Since working in the area of Ministerial PJPs, I have met so many people who have shared stories of Rev Frank Morrisey OMI or who have recommended that I read something that he has written on the topic of Ministerial PJPs. It seems to me that if anyone could claim the title “midwife of Ministerial PJPs” it would be Frank Morissey. He seems to be one of the first people to realise the possibilities in Canon Law for the establishment of Ministerial PJPs as a way forward for the Church. He wrote and spoke extensively on the canonical and theological basis for lay ecclesial governance in the Ministerial PJP structure. He advocated for the Ministerial PJP structure and for individual Ministerial PJPs to the Apostolic See. He was also instrumental in assisting in the writing the statutes of many Ministerial PJPs – including some in Australia.

Pat Bugden, Inaugural Executive Officer of the AMPJP, said:

Father Frank Morrissey OMI  a Canadian Canon Lawyer was well known and highly regarded throughout the world particularly for his understanding of Public Juridical  Persons (PJPS). He was an honorary member of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Father Frank visited Australia on a number of occasions in around 2007 to 2010  where he presented papers on this  new form of corporate  governance for the ministries of religious organisations  .

He  worked closely with a number of Australian Religious Congregations  in establishing their PJPS, and with his understanding of the requirements and workings  of the Holy See,  guided them in preparing their canonical statutes etc, to be presented to Rome for approval.

The growth and success of PJPs in Australia was greatly influenced by the expert advice and guidance provided by Father Frank Morrissey.

Rev Ken Cafe OFM, President of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand said:

Frank had a true gift for the law and the spirit of the law.  An inspiring teacher – a very rare breed nowadays – and he was top of his “class” in this field.  A wonderful mind.  A sad loss to the canonical world.

A short biographical video was produced for the Catholic Health Association (USA) in 2019 when they presented Rev. Frank Morrisey OMI with a Lifetime Achievement Award

Fr. Frank Morrisey, OMI, is Remembered and Honoured by Saint Paul University

Ottawa (Ontario), DATE — It is with sadness that Saint Paul University informs staff, students, and alumni of Fr. Frank Morrisey’s death. He passed away on May 23, at the age of 84.

Fr. Frank Morrisey, OMI, served as Saint Paul University’s Dean of Canon Law from 1972 to 1981 and offered important insights in the development of the department.

“I am grateful to have known him,” stated Chantal Beauvais, Rector of Saint Paul University. “I always appreciated his good judgment and advice regarding existing structures. He never absolutized them, but always sought to adapt them according to the good we wanted to achieve. Although we have lost a dear friend, colleague and ambassador, we know that Fr. Frank will continue to influence both our mission as well as the practice of canon law at Saint Paul University for years to come.”

Fr. Frank was an expert in canon law and helped to draft the text of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. He always reminded persons of the purpose of law and those who knew him would attest to his frequent statement: “The law is made for the people, not the people for the law.”

To ensure that the rights and obligations of all were known and respected, Fr. Frank tried to find ways in which the law could support faith development, and an experience of God’s compassion, not judgement.

In addition to his academic work, Fr. Frank offered canonical consultations throughout the world to General Superiors and Dioceses. He was known for his quick turn-around time when advice and support was requested by anyone. His passion for his vocation was evident in his usual email response: “I’m in (current location) saving souls!”

Recipient of the Eugène de Mazenod Medal

On May 6th, 2020, Saint Paul University awarded Fr. Frank with Eugène de Mazenod Medal. This medal honours individuals who have made significant contributions to make their community, in their environment and society as a whole more just and humane.

“The Church has been enriched by Frank’s selfless outpouring and, through the Church, cultures and societies throughout the world have also been enriched,” shared Monsignor John Renken, Dean of Canon Law. “He is esteemed and admired by a plethora of social innovators, church leaders, and professional colleagues. He has shown himself to be a faithful son of Saint Eugene de Mazenod who envisioned bringing healing and hope to the peripheries of Eugene’s day. Frank has done the same in today’s world.”

May he rest in peace. Amen.


The Francis Impact (2 minute summary on Pope Francis approach to Church law)


Interview from Rome with Chantal Beauvais, Rector SPU (15 minute interview on current possibilities in Church law)