A SMALL gathering of 91 people was in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sale, on Tuesday to witness the ordination of the 10th Bishop of Sale, Greg Bennet.
Principal consecrator was Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli, Emeritus Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart and former Bishop of Sale, now Archbishop of Adelaide, Patrick O’Regan.
Before the ceremony a video of welcome was screened featuring messages to Bishop Bennet from people around the diocese and beyond.
The video was a creative response to the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions.
Under normal circumstances, representatives from the parishes of the diocese, Catholic schools, agencies, charitable organisations, ecumenical and interfaith leaders and civic leaders would formally receive the new bishop
The joyful and heart-warming video enabled a “virtual” welcome to Bishop Greg.
A Welcome to Country was made by elder Sandra Neilson, before the commencement of the ceremony.
Archbishop Comensoli said in his address it was “a gift to us all that Bishop Greg Bennet has said yes to the Lord, who has sent him to Sale Diocese to proclaim Jesus Christ”.
“We pray that his ministry among the people of God in Sale will be fruitful, and that he is welcomed as friend and shepherd,” he said.
Bishop Bennet acknowledged the “virtual” welcome and said he looked forward to “really” meeting all those involved.
Bishop Bennet highlighted the beauty of St Mary’s Cathedral – the mother church of the diocese – the place of the cathedra (the seat in which only the bishop sits which has been vacant since Bishop O’Regan’s appointment to Adelaide in March), where the people of God had gathered to welcome the 10th Bishop of Sale.
He expressed relief the ordination had finally been able to occur following a COVID-19 related postponement in October, after his appointment by Pope Francis on June 25.
In acknowledging the rich history and legacy of the Catholic Diocese of Sale since 1887, he encouraged the Catholic community to work together, and with others, in witnessing to justice, mercy, reconciliation and the care of the aged, vulnerable and those in need.
“The Pope models for us in words, and often powerfully through his actions, what our mission is: We are called to be in engaging with the real experience and heart questions which people face,” Bishop Bennet said.
“I have become aware of so many local initiatives across our towns and suburbs which need to be celebrated as the Good News in action.
“These are tangible examples of faith in action which bring joy, care and reflect the servant leadership of Jesus entrusted to his disciples in every age.”
Bishop Bennet’s mother, Maureen Bennet, along with siblings Leanne, Andrew and James and their families, were amongst the congregation.
Clergy attending included Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Yllana, former Bishop of Sale (now Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn) Christopher Prowse, Bishop of Parramatta Vincent Long, bishops from the other Victorian dioceses and clergy from Sale and Melbourne dioceses.
A small choir of eight people, with organist Paul Taylor, under the direction of Sophy Morley, provided the music for the Mass.