Rome: Bishop Shane attends Formation Course for New Bishops

At the start of September, Bishop Shane spent a week in Rome for a special formation course for recently ordained bishops.  Usually, this course is conducted each year but, due to COVID-19, had not been held for three years.   Bishop Shane joined a large group of 180 Bishops who were ordained in 2019 and 2020.  A second group of 180 Bishops, who were ordained more recently, will attend the same course later in the month. 


The bishops came from across Europe, North and South America, the UK, the Philippines and Australia, and included 45 Eastern-rite bishops (Ukrainian, Chaldean, Maronite, Syro-Malabar, etc.), who were also involved in a supplementary program hosted by the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.  A separate course is run for bishops from countries in Africa, India, Oceania and most of Asia, who relate to the Vatican through the Dicastery for Evangelisation.


Despite the enormous range of languages spoken, it was normally possible to find a common language over meals or coffee, and the formal sessions had high-quality simultaneous translation into six languages.


Each morning, Mass was celebrated by one of the cardinals who head a Vatican department, and then a number of sessions were held during the day, with input followed by dialogue and questions, as well as a few discussions in small groups.  Presenters came from the Vatican and universities, and included cardinals, clergy and religious, as well as male and female lay people.


Highlights included lively and stimulating presentations on synodality, discernment in leadership, responding to abuse by clergy, understanding our changing culture, media and communication, and supporting those preparing for marriage or who have experienced a marriage breakdown.


Three Masses were celebrated in Rome itself: one at the Basilica of St Mary Major, one with Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square for the beatification of Pope John Paul I and, on the final day, in St Peter’s itself.


On the last morning, Pope Francis generously spent over two hours with the group, which was double the time that had been expected. He showed great warmth, insight, encouragement and humour in his responses to a wide range of questions and comments that various bishops put to him.


The week was a valuable opportunity for the bishops to share their experience with one another, and to become more personally connected to the Catholic Church throughout the world.

Bishop Shane Rome 1Above: Bishop Shane with Bishop Karol  Kulczycki (Port Pirie) and Bishop Mykola Bychok (Ukrainian Eparchy), to his right and Bishop Greg Bennet (Sale) to his left.