John Hugh MacDonald, born in Nova Scotia in 1881, was ordained in 1906. While serving as a parish priest, he grew to respect the Nova Scotia coalminers and the working class people. His courage and selflessness was demonstrated during a fatal Cape Breton mine explosion when, at personal risk, Father John entered the mine to minister to the dying miners. In 1938, Father MacDonald was appointed Archbishop of Edmonton, a position he held for twenty-six years. Understanding the devastating impact of poverty, Archbishop MacDonald set about guaranteeing that people would never suffer again as they had during the Great Depression by establishing credit unions in Alberta and strongly supporting adult education.
Known for his work in eliminating discrimination, Archbishop MacDonald also established the foundation of Catholic Social Services in Edmonton. He was active in the ecumenical movement until ill health forced his retirement in 1964. Archbishop MacDonald was a visionary for social justice. His many contributions are an inspiration to the MAC community. Overcoming poverty, supporting education and ending discrimination are themes embedded in daily life at Archbishop MacDonald. Leadership and ecumenism are also celebrated at MAC.
The positive leadership and the caring attitude of Archbishop MacDonald and his legacy of St. Joseph’s Basilica and St. Joseph’s Seminary provide a model on which the MAC community continues to build.