Solemn Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral
It is on occasions such as this, when we gather together in this magnificent Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, that we remember with deep gratitude that we were drawn into the life of God and indeed became part of God's family when we were Baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, this participation was further deepened by our reception of other sacraments; and as we moved throughout our life’s journey, our openness and response to God's love has drawn us ever deeper into God's life. We find that we are not alone with God, but we are deeply bonded with all those with whom we share faith. Moreover, we are familiar with St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1Cor.12:4-11), where he writes that each of us receives particular gifts from God, which we are called upon to contribute to the building up of the Church.
In my own life, my response to God's call has led me from my childhood and youth in Mildura to the seminary. Then as a priest, apart from short period of three years working in the Archdiocese of Hobart in the mid to late 70s, I have lived out my priesthood in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. In recent years, it has been my privilege to serve in the roles of leadership as Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop in Melbourne. And now, I come to be with you, as your Bishop of Sandhurst. I know that my life, which has been a rich and fulfilling one, will continue to be graced by God in service of His people in this diocese. Throughout my life and ministry I have felt empowered by the working of the Holy Spirit to the point of echoing St Paul's conviction that: I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
Coming amongst you to take up this call to be your Bishop - sanctifier, teacher of the faith, and leader - I do so, humbled by the confidence shown in me and confident, through the Holy Spirit, of a blessed outcome.
In a particular way, I accept my responsibility to lead in worship and moderate the Liturgy of the Church; to teach and proclaim sound doctrine in union with the Holy Father and the universal College of Bishops, and to give leadership and government of the Diocese, that responsibly husbands the resources of the Diocese to the benefit of the faithful and the assistance of Christ's poor.
As my model I take Christ Jesus himself who is the sanctifier, teacher and leader par excellence. For this reason I have chosen for my Episcopal motto: IN CHRIST’S NAME.
I hasten to add that, not for a moment would I envisage embarking on this task alone. Already the Diocese of Sandhurst has been blessed with many endeavours, undertaken over the years by my six predecessors, in collaboration with the priests and faithful of the time, to address the needs of the people and Church. In this manner Catholic Education, care of the poor, the sick and the elderly, ongoing education in faith of adults, support for parishes in liturgy, pastoral planning, youth work, parish councils, and parish administration - all have been given a priority, as resources available were harnessed to benefit these works.
My task is to ensure that such works continue and where appropriate, new works are initiated and all flourish and are directed towards the building up of the Kingdom of God.
To this end, I offer an urgent and sincere invitation to the youth of the Diocese, to carefully reflect and consider as to whether God is calling you to play a special part in this endeavour as a religious or priest. From my own experience, I assure the young men of the Diocese, who God is calling to the priesthood, that you could choose no better than to accept this call, in contributing to the life of the Church, in deepening your relationship with God, in finding fulfillment in life and attaining eternal life. Be not afraid!
My role of Chief Pastor of the Diocese is a particularly rich one and I commit myself to striving to fulfill it generally as your Bishop and where possible to you individually. This role of pastor has special significance in my relationship with the clergy of the Diocese, to whom I am called to be their Father in Christ. In the months ahead, I look forward to coming to know you priests and to developing true friendship with you. You are the first collaborators with the Bishop in the endeavours of the Church.