Bishop Michael’s Letter08 June, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost Sunday. From the Acts of Apostles, we were invited to recall the beginning of the early church. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples who gathered with the Mother of Jesus and changed their lives as they began the new mission of the Risen Christ. The gift of the Holy Spirit ensures us that we continue the Mission of Jesus and gives us the strength as his disciples for his mission and his church.
Over the Pentecost weekend, the Parishes of Rockhampton celebrated the weekend in many ways.
On Pentecost Sunday eve, the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist was celebrated for many of our young people. On Pentecost Sunday, the ministers of the various denominations from around Rockhampton came together to pray and celebrate our common mission in Jesus Christ. Sr Beryl Amedee rsm, through her good relationships with the pastors of the churches of Rockhampton, once again connected all of us on Pentecost to celebrate the birth of our Church. In the morning, there was a special focus on Mary and her role as Mother of the Church as the communities sang in the many languages of our church.
I have been visiting the parishes of North Mackay, Bundaberg and Gladstone and celebrating Confirmations with our young people. Confirmation began in Bundaberg earlier in the year with two people confirmed and then to Aramac for five young people, Isisford for three young people and then North Mackay of 151 young people. Last weekend, it was Bundaberg for another 60 young people.
I am appreciative of all of your wishes at the time of the eighth anniversary of Episcopal Ordination. I celebrated the anniversary with parishioners of St Joseph’s Church in Mackay, and now my office has a beautiful chiming clock, a gift from the parish. It is always wonderful visiting the parish communities and celebrating Sunday Eucharist.
During my visit to the Bundaberg Parish, I enjoyed visiting our three primary schools, St Joseph’s, St Mary’s, and St Patrick’s. I am always in awe of our principals and APRE’s, teachers, staff and the administration team who look after our young people and ensure they get the very best Catholic education and assist with the sacramental program as they prepare for the sacraments. I was disappointed that I did not get to visit Shalom College during this visit because of students having COVID and the flu, but I did catch up with a few of the Shalom College students who joined the Confirmation class of 2022.
While I was in Bundaberg, I was fortunate enough to catch up with our people from Centacare CQ, or rather CatholicCare, the new name for our entity engaged in the mission of the Diocese of Rockhampton as it cares for our people. Under the leadership of Mr Robert Sims the transition to CatholicCare will ensure that the Catholic mission of welfare is an integral part of our Diocesan mission.
This coming weekend I am in the parish of Gladstone with Fathers Andrew Chase and Ashwin Acharya. It is just 12 months ago when Fr Ashwin was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rockhampton. I look forward to catching up with the parish and meeting with the pastoral and finance councils and our schools.
One of my highlights of my visit to Mackay was the blessing and opening of our new Catherine McAuley College, which was formerly the Sugar Research Institute for Mackay. Opened in 1953, this important research station was pivotal to the agricultural industry in Mackay. Over the years, it has housed many chemists, technologists, engineers, and all those associated with the sugar industry. Now under the watchful eye of Catherine McAuley it has become a College with Mr Jim Ford as the foundation principal. As many of us spoke on the day and invited God into the new college, Mr Jim Ford tied all of our speeches together, quoting from Laudato Si and Evangelii Gaudium so that Catherine McAuley College has its foundation – the joy of the Gospel and looking out to ensure that our earth is cared for in the years ahead. Thank you Mr Jim Ford.
During the month we celebrated the anniversary of our Cathedral. 140 years since the foundation of our Diocese when the first Bishop, Bishop Cani was ordained as the Bishop of Rockhampton on the 22 May 1882 in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. Shortly after the ordination Bishop Dunne became the second Bishop of the Archdiocese of Brisbane and succeed Bishop Quinn who had died.
Forty years ago, the extensions to the Cathedral were completed and as you can see the beautiful stained-glass windows, tabernacle, and furniture were all added to the Cathedral. Mr Geoff Murphy was at the recent celebrations and spoke of the building of the new section at the back of the Cathedral. Father Bryan Hanifin reminded me that one that day the ABC radio featured on its news a commentary by Father Paul Kettle, the opening and blessing of the extensions by Cardinal Freeman of Sydney.
As I travel across the Diocese, I am amazed at the beautiful chalices, candle sticks, processional crosses and the many items in our churches. There are some beautiful pieces of art, especially articles that have a great significance. It is sad when I hear of some of these articles have been removed from the churches or have been lost to that particular community. Many of the religious items of the Diocese were given by a family or a priest and the inscription tells the story. These are important parts of our history and not to be forgotten.
As I look over my diary for the next month, I note there that we begin the Plenary Council in early July in Sydney. A time for great excitement for the Australian Church where members have been invited to the Plenary Council and together with the Bishops will discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We began the Plenary Council with what is the spirit saying to the Churches, what is the Holy Spirit saying to all of us? May our discerning hear the Holy Spirit directing the Mission of Christ for our church.
I look forward to catching up as I continue to visit throughout the Diocese for the Sacrament of Confirmation and sitting with the various pastoral and finance councils and hearing how they are enacting the Mission of Christ.
With best wishes.