Bishop Michael’s Letter21 June, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
I welcome you to this June edition of the electronic newsletter.
We have received so many positive comments about the new format and its adaptability to include videos. I would encourage you to share the link with all parishioners in your parish so that this way of communication about the happenings around the Diocese can easily be disseminated. Printable versions can be arranged through our Communications Office for distribution for those that do not have access to the electronic format. I thank you all for your continued support, which began with an idea from Sr Kym Harris and myself a few years back as a way of communicating to the Diocese. Of course, there have been a few formats that we have developed over the time, this being the electronic newsletter of the happenings.
I am hoping with Dr Maree Ganley now writing some of the history of the Diocese, from time to time, a history magazine will be published. As I move around the Diocese, I get the sense that there is a very strong interest in collating and documenting the history of our Diocese.
It has been a very busy month with Confirmations, celebrating in the Parishes of North Mackay, North Rockhampton, South Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Emerald and Springsure. In all there have been over 600 young people confirmed. The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is a great time in our Diocese, praying for the Holy Spirit in the lives of our young people so they may be strengthened for the mission. Our thanks go to the Sacramental Coordinators and the teams who prepare our young people. You ensure that our young people have the very best start in their faith.
I certainly appreciate catching up with the priests and enjoying their hospitality as I visit each parish. I always feel very well fed and cared for when I spend the time with our priests and share in their ministry. It has also been a wonderful time celebrating masses in our colleges as I moved around as well. I was with Holy Spirit College celebrating their feast day, Chanel College with midday mass and then Marist College at Emerald where we celebrated their feast day of St Marcellin Champagnat. It was also a joy to celebrate with The Cathedral College where many of the students were baptised, confirmed, and received First Holy Communion. Our colleges are alive with the Holy Spirit, and I thank all our leaders in the colleges where our young people receive the very best education. At the beginning of the year, we celebrated the feast day of Shalom College and the blessing of the great initiative of the solar energy plant that powers the entire school. I look forward to visiting all of our colleges over the course of the year.
We celebrated 200 years of Catholic Education during the month. From the humble beginnings of Father JJ Therry who began a small school in Parramatta, our education system has grown. For this Diocese, many faithful lay people began schools and then were joined by the priests and the religious and supported their mission in providing Catholic education to our young.
The other great celebration that we had in Mackay recently was the Catholic Debutante Ball, where 40 of our young people dressed up for the evening to celebrate a very special event. My congratulations go to all those who organised and ensured that our young people received a very special gift of being able to conduct themselves at this formal evening. This is our only Catholic Debutante Ball and is a great opportunity for the young people and their families to celebrate.
Some people ask what a Bishop does all day and yet I see that my diary is very full. This week, as you will read in this newsletter Ashwin Acharya was ordained a priest, a presbyter for the Diocese of Rockhampton. Father Ashwin began as a young teacher at St Ursula’s College in Yeppoon and felt the call to ordained ministry through his great gift with youth work. I remember first meeting Ashwin when I went to St Ursula’s for an official function and there was this young man calling out “Hello Bishop”. He invited me to a small group of young people who he was preparing for Baptism. Ashwin has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the mission and faith in Christ Jesus. Welcome Fr Ashwin to the presbyterate and to our Diocese. May your time as a priest be one of grace and blessings. Thank you, Fr Ashwin, for answering the call to ordained ministry and we pray that many more young people will follow Fr Ashwin into the priesthood and religious life for our future generations.
Being Administrator of the Cathedral brings many activities, from being with the Pastoral and Finance Councils and listening to their dreams and hopes and aspirations, but also the liturgical side of each Sunday at Mass. Recently it was the Flowers of May, where many of our people from across Rockhampton celebrated the end of May with a procession in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The statue of Mary came from the Vietnamese community, around which where they gather during the month of May. It was a marvelous time where all of our people gather from across the parish and Rockhampton and celebrate an important Marian celebration.
During this month I have also attended a few of the school musicals. I sit in amazement and enjoy the talent of our young people as they sing and dance and tell stories on the stage. We have some marvelous and talented young people and I appreciate the dedication of their teachers, school staff and community to assist our young people to showcase their gifts and talents. Well done for these very enjoyable evenings and I look forward to being with many of our colleges who put on school productions.
I also had the opportunity to be with the Diocesan Pastoral Council which was formed last year. The Diocesan Pastoral Council assists me with the governance and overseeing the pastoral activity of our Diocese to ensure that our Diocese is a living reflection of the Mission of Jesus Christ. Each of our regions – the Central West, Central Highlands, Northern, Central and Southern, have formed Regional Pastoral Councils which assist with the pastoral activity across the parishes of the region. I was able to sit with the Southern Regional Pastoral Council by Zoom and listen to their great achievements and excitement for the mission. The Southern Regional Pastoral Council covers the parishes of Bundaberg, Gladstone and the Valleys region.
Recently, I met with the Pastoral Councils of the Southside and Northside Parishes of Rockhampton. The Parish newsletter reported this meeting and their commitment to connect & work with each other for the common mission of Jesus Christ.
Wishing you all of God’s blessings and once again thanks to Sr Kym who, at the moment, is joined by Sr Diana who is our second Benedictine Sister and who spends most of her year in the Hermitage at Tarrawarra Abbey.