Gregory J. Bittman was born on March 5, 1961, in Edmonton, the eldest of three boys. He attended St. Edmund School and St. Joseph High School before earning a diploma in nursing from the Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Alberta. He worked as a nurse for several years before entering the seminary to study for the priesthood.
In 1991, he obtained a Master’s of Divinity Degree from Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C., and in 2009, he obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood on August 15, 1996, at St. Joseph’s Basilica by Archbishop Joseph MacNeil. He began his priestly ministry as Associate Pastor of Holy Family Parish in St. Albert and Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish, Gibbons (1996-97), then was appointed Pastor of Our Lady of the Prairies Parish in Daysland (1997-99), Christ-King Parish in Stettler (1999-2000), and the parishes of St. Agnes and St. Anthony, Edmonton (2000-01).
Father Bittman is a pianist, amateur organist and avid runner. He holds a black belt in karate and enjoys scuba diving. He is known for his work as an apprentice home renovator as well as being a doting uncle to 10 nieces and nephews.
Father Bittman was appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese in 2000 and was named as Judicial Vicar in 2009. He is an ex officio member of the College of Consultors, the Presbyteral Council, the Clergy Personnel Committee, the Project Review Board and the Finance Committee in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. He has also served as Spiritual Director to seminarians over the last few years.
Father Bittman was appointed the first Auxiliary Bishop of Edmonton by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on July 14, 2012. He was ordained to the episcopate on September 2012, the Feast of St. Gregory the Great, at St. Joseph's Basilica.
The Bishop's Coat of Arms
Heraldry originated about a thousand years ago in Europe, where it was used by the warrior classes as a means of differentiating combatants on the field of battle. As Europe developed and the feudal warrior class disappeared, the practice of identifying one's possessions with personal emblems flourished. Ecclesiastical heraldry grew out of this practice, initially to differentiate between the various degrees of the clerical estate. The Pope and most bishops adopt a personal coat of arms, which today is used primarily to identify communications from their particular office. Bishop Bittman adopted his personal coat of arms when he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Edmonton.
Red is a colour found in the arms or flags of Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Poland, thus marking Bishop Bittman’s ancestry. Red and white are the colours of Canada. The dove is the attribute of Pope St. Gregory the Great, thus alluding to Bishop Bittman’s first name as well as the fact that he was ordained a bishop on the feast day of St. Gregory. The dove is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit, of peace and love, and of the faithful. Its depiction in the arms is based on a stained glass window in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, thus connecting Bishop Bittman’s exercise of the apostolic ministry of a bishop with St. Peter, numbered as the first apostle. The lamp is a symbol of nursing, a reference to Bishop Bittman’s profession as a Registered Nurse prior to his reception of Holy Orders. A lamp is also a Christian symbol, a metaphor for the Word of God. Its flame alludes to the flames above the disciples’ heads on the day of Pentecost (and, by extension, to a bishop’s mitre), and to the enflamed Sacred Heart of Jesus, marking the fact that Bishop Bittman was ordained a deacon on that feast day. The division line resembling clouds alludes to the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on which Bishop Bittman was ordained a priest.
Christus Iesus Spes Nostra.
These words are Latin for “Christ Jesus our Hope” (1 Tim. 1:1)