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Bishop Michael’s Letter

13 May, 2021
Bishop Michael with the Chorus of "Are you Lonesome Tonight" put on by Opera Queensland at Beef Week

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Welcome to the May edition of the Bishop’s electronic newsletter to the Diocese.

I am appreciative of the great efforts of Sr Kym in the gathering and collating the items that appear in this newsletter. Sr Kym tells me that there are over 1200 subscribers and I invite you to please pass on the invitation to your family, friends and parishioners in our Diocese, and beyond, to become subscribers. This newsletter is a communication that each month connects people with the happenings and activities of our Diocese.

Last week we had Beef Week here in Rockhampton. It was a great opportunity to meet many of our parishioners from properties throughout our Diocese and to reconnect with the farming industry and with one another.  During the week there were many dinners, concerts and social activities. On Tuesday night it was an incredible experience to be present for Opera Queensland’s production “Are you Lonesome Tonight?”

This newsletter we say farewell to Fr Raj who has returned to India and was elected Vice Provincial of his Society. Congratulations Fr Raj on this position. We will keep him in our prayers. Fr Raj will stay in India to exercise his new role of Vice Provincial, although when the COVID cloud lifts he may come and visit us here in the Diocese.

During the month I celebrated Confirmations at Bundaberg. It was a great experience of connection once again with the Parish of Bundaberg and many of our young people and their families. I visited some of the schools in Bundaberg and I am very appreciative of the leadership we have in our schools and colleges.

Smiling, Spirit-filled faces in Bundaberg
Smiling, Spirit-filled faces in Bundaberg

I am very thankful for the great role that our coordinators of the sacramental programs play in our parishes and regions. Together with the APRE’s of our schools they form an incredible team supporting our young people and their families. These roles are so important in our church as they guide our families and young people in their connection with Christ and our Church. In some parts of the Diocese, there is a Regional Coordinator who coordinates sacramental programs across a whole region so that there is consistency across that region. I look forward to this developing in the various regions of our Diocese. It is important that we all work together for the mission of Christ.

I write this editorial from the meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. This year because of COVID restrictions and the uncertainty of travel restrictions, we are meeting on Zoom, 4 x 1 ½ hour sessions daily. It is a great experience to once again connect with the Australian Bishops for prayer and address the issues that are emerging in our Australian Church. There was a lot of discussion moving towards the Plenary Council and, through Joy Philippi as the Executive Officer – Mission and our members for the Plenary Council, it is hoped that the formation will be disseminated through the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the various Regional Pastoral Councils that we have in place in our Diocese.

I look forward to the next meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. This Council met online last year during the pandemic, but this coming  meeting will be in person.  We will be discerning the pastoral issues of the Diocese. I am grateful to the leadership and guidance of Rob Alexander who chairs the meeting.

During the month our Director of Diocesan Services, Mr Dean Smith, convened a gathering of the secretaries and parish managers from across the Diocese. It was a great opportunity for them to network and to receive formation in the various aspects of their important ministry as parish secretaries and managers.

Last night I had the opportunity of attending the safeguarding in-service for 2021. A requirement for all of us who are in ministry or who are volunteers is that we attend one of these sessions every year. The night was presented by Judy Pidcock and Kate Moore. It was a real joy to be part of the incredible and professional session that Judy and Kate presented. We appreciate their work in ensuring that our Diocese is a safe place for our people.  Thank you, Judy & Kate.

I look forward to the ordination of Deacon Ashwin Acharya to the priesthood next month. It will be a marvellous celebration for the Diocese as we ordain a new presbyter for the Diocese of Rockhampton. Deacon Ashwin grew up in Yeppoon and attended the local schools of Sacred Heart Primary School and St Brendan’s College, and also taught at St Ursula’s College. He is very much a local vocation and one who experienced the call to ordained ministry within the Catholic community of the Capricorn Coast.  It is  so important that we invite our young people to come forward for ordained ministry and religious life within our Diocese. Michael Otto our Diocesan Vocations Director  is only too happy to connect with our young people to assist them to discern their vocation.

With God’s blessings upon you and your family during this time of May. I look forward to welcoming you to the Cathedral on Sunday 30 May 2021 at the 9.30am Mass to celebrate the Flowers of May in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary.

May God bless you all.