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Bishop Michael’s Letter

24 April, 2024
Blessing and Opening of Theatre Expansion at the Mater Mackay Hospital

There has been a lot happening since our last newsletter and I have spent a significant amount of time travelling, both within and outside of the Diocese.

We celebrated the annual Chrism Mass where we gathered as a Diocesan family and recommitted ourselves to our ministries and the oils for anointing across the Diocese were blessed and distributed. It is always wonderful to gather in our Cathedral and be uplifted by the wonderful celebration.

I then travelled with Leesa Jeffcoat, Diocesan Director of Catholic Education, to our school communities in the Central Highlands. It is always marvellous to meet with the different communities that make up our Diocese, and talk with the students, teachers and staff in their schools. I thank Principal Selena Cutting from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Springsure, Principal Mark Green from Marist College, Emerald, Principal Sheila Challacombe of St Joseph’s, Clermont and Principal Chris Ferguson from St Patrick’s, Emerald.

We then had our wonderful Easter celebrations. For the Triduum, Holy Thursday was a joint celebration for Rockhampton at St Joseph’s Cathedral, Good Friday I celebrated at the Cathedral and the Easter Vigil was again the one celebration for all of Rockhampton. It was a marvellous celebration of the Vigil, we welcomed two people into the Church. The whole celebration was very uplifting.

Straight after Easter I travelled to Vietnam, accompanied by Fr Peter Doherty, to visit the Bishop of Vinh Diocese Alphonse Nguyễn Hữu Long. Fr Anthony Nguyen comes from the Vinh Diocese so it was lovely to meet his Bishop in person and to meet with his family, who have generously given two of their sons to ministry here in Australia. I also had the opportunity to meet with Bishop Louis Nguyên Anh Tuán of the Hà Tĩnh Diocese, which neighbours the Vinh Diocese. Vietnam is such a beautiful country with lovely people and the Church is flourishing there.

When back in Rockhampton I met with the Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox community, who have a local community in Rockhampton, and then headed off again, to Mackay this time, for the opening and blessing of the new Mater perioperative theatre expansion.

It was then to the Central West for a pastoral visitation and the last of the school tours. It was wonderful to see the west so green, everywhere, after having received good rain to nourish and replenish.

In Longreach we celebrated with two of our teachers, Sahlie was welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church and Bella completed her initiation through the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist. At the Blackall Mass, teacher Lucy began her catechumenal journey. It is a real joy to work with our teachers as they embrace the Catholic faith, and this has been a real blessing for the Longreach and Blackall communities. I was also able to install Fr Bang as the Parish Priest for these communities, having been appointed there not long ago. Fr Bang is settling in well and getting to meet all the communities across the vast area. I also met with the parish communities in Blackall and Tambo. I thank Loretta McKeering, our Pastoral Coordinator, for the work she does across all these communities and her help in coordinating the visit. We then visited St Joseph’s, Blackall and Principal Samantha Suthers who is doing a great job in this community. It was then onto St Joseph’s, Barcaldine and visiting Principal Trent Shillington. I baptised Trent in the Jordan River on one of our Holy Land pilgrimages a few years back. The following day we went to our last stop, St Brigid’s, Longreach and Principal Peter Thurecht with the school community.

We received a very warm western welcome in all these communities and it’s always a testament to good people who live and work in these regions the hospitality they extend, despite at times the difficult circumstances they might be going through themselves.

Finally, we farewelled Fr Jayanthi Maddala on Sunday, 21st at St Joseph’s Cathedral. Fr Jayanthi came to help us in the mission through the Heralds of Good News order in India eight years ago and has ministered across various communities in that time, including in the West. I thank Fr Jayanthi for his commitment to the mission here, for leaving his home country and family, and for his pastoral presence amongst us. We wish Fr Jayanthi all the very best in his future endeavours and I am sure he is looking forward to being home with his family, at least for a short while. This now also ends our agreement with the Heralds of Good News, having had a number of good priests through them during our time in working together.