Aloysius Ambrozic was born in Dobrova, Slovenia, the second of the seven children of Aloysius Ambrozic and his wife, Helena Pecar. He attended elementary school in Dobrova and high school in Ljubljana. In May, 1945, the entire family fled to Austria, where they lived in refugee camps at Vetrinj, Peggez and Spittal an der Drau. While in these camps, Aloysius completed his high school education.
In September of 1948 the family immigrated to Canada and settled near Toronto. Shortly afterwards, Aloysius entered St. Augustine's Seminary to study philosophy and theology. On June 4, 1955, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto by His Eminence, James C. Cardinal McGuigan.
The first year of his priesthood he served as Curate at St. Teresa's Parish in Port Colborne, Ontario. He then taught Latin for a year at St. Augustine's Seminary, Toronto. The years 1957-1960 were devoted to postgraduate studies in Rome, where he received a Licentiate in Theology at the Angelicum and a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Returning to Toronto, Fr. Ambrozic taught scripture at St. Augustine's Seminary from 1960-67. In 1967 he began further studies in Germany, obtaining a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Würzburg in 1970.
From 1970-76 he was professor of New Testament exegesis at the Toronto School of Theology, serving also as Dean of Studies at St. Augustine's Seminary from 1971-76. From 1971-75 he was a member of the Archdiocesan Senate of Priests.
After almost 21 years as a diocesan priest, Fr. Ambrozic was named an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Toronto in 1976. Bishop Ambozic served alongside Archbishop Philip Pocock and Emmett Cardinal Carter, before his appointment as Archbishop of Toronto on March 17, 1990. In January 1998, Pope John Paul II nominated him as Cardinal, a position that resulted in his participation in the conclave of 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
In addition to publishing numerous books and articles, Cardinal Ambrozic served on a number of Vatican committees related to immigration, culture, worship and the economy. He also hosted the largest gathering of Catholic youth in Canadian history, World Youth Day 2002, that culminated in the celebration of Mass by Pope John Paul II at Downsview Park for more than 750,000 pilgrims.
After more than 50 years of faithful service to the church as priest, bishop and cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Cardinal Ambrozic's letter of resignation on December 16, 2006.
The Cardinal’s legacy is commemorated in several places throughout the Greater Toronto Area, including Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School in Brampton as well as the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence, the long-term care facility in Scarborough, where the Cardinal spent his final months along with many of his brother priests.
Cardinal Ambrozic's Coat of Arms
The principal charge of the shield is the gold winged lion, symbolizing the Risen Lord. The lion is also symbolic of Saint Mark in whose Gospel the Cardinal did his doctoral studies. In base the crescent chequy is taken from the arms of the former duchy of Carniola, now part of Slovenia, where the Cardinal way born.
The Cardinal’s motto, Jesus est Dominus, (Jesus is Lord) is one of the earliest professions of faith in Jesus Christ.