Celebrating Bishop Kevin Manning’s Golden Jubilee
Catholic Outlook, March 2012
A Mass to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Ordination to Priesthood of Most Rev Kevin Manning DD, Bishop Emeritus of Parramatta, was held in St Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday 4 February 2012. Bishop Kevin was ordained by Cardinal Agagainain in Rome on 21 December 1961.
Bishop Kevin was the principal celebrant for the Mass, which was concelebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Pell, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop David Walker, Bishop Terry Brady, and priests of the Diocese of Parramatta and Sydney.
In his homily Bishop Kevin described priesthood as a great gift and a mystery. “It is through the priesthood that we have the Eucharist which is the sacramental representation of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ and its fulfilment in His glorious resurrection.
“Today’s celebration is directed to thanking the Father for the gift and mystery of Christ’s priesthood, even as it is expressed amidst the frailty and limitations of the humanity of priests.
“For me personally it is an opportunity to thank God for all those who helped me reach the priesthood: my parents, family, friends, devoted priests and sisters, teachers, seminary professors and fellow students, and so many unknown benefactors, without whose prayers I would never have been ordained.”
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Anthony presented Bishop Kevin with an etching by artist Pamela Griffiths as a gift from the Diocese. Children from the Korean Catholic community came forward with flowers.
Bishop Anthony also welcomed 11 seminarians from Parramatta’s Holy Spirit Seminary. “Let me say to you young men, look and learn. Learn from this faithful priest of Jesus Christ, for 50 years His servant and friend to God’s people. Learn from his generosity and fidelity and in 50 years or so from now it will be your Golden Jubilee which the People of God celebrate!
“For most of us retirement means taking things a little easier. But as his retirement project Bishop Manning took on the administration of the See of Wilcannia-Forbes, a diocese that covers about half of NSW and allows an easy 9½ hour drive from his cathedral to his presbytery!
“We thank God for the gift of the priesthood today. We thank Christ that He called Kevin Manning to share in His priesthood and graced him to respond to that call. We thank God for allowing Kevin five decades of such service so far and that Kevin has given without counting the cost as Christ the Priest and Good Shepherd did.
“Pope Benedict XVI has said that it is more important for us to have good priests than to have many priests; best of all to have both! Bishop Kevin is a good priest. Everyone who knows him knows that it is the pastoral things, the priestly things which would bring light to his eyes, a smile to his face, the energy to keep going amidst the rest of his life as bishop.
“Not that our lives as priests are ever meant to be superficial or boring; but when we enter the sacred territories of God’s sanctuary and people’s lives we priests are touched profoundly.
“Bishop Manning’s life as a priest has included many pastoral achievements. After completing his studies at Propaganda Fidei College he was ordained in Rome 50 years ago. At that time I was a little baby with no cares in the world; but it was at this time that Kevin took on all the cares of the world.
“He served in parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst until 1978 when he went to work to serve the entire Australian Church in the Bishops Conference. In 1991 he became one of that Conference as pastor of the Catholic Diocese of Armidale. In 1997 he was named Bishop of Parramatta and, most recently, Apostolic Administrator for Wilcannia-Forbes. So he’s had a very varied experience of priesthood.
“At the end of his time with us in Parramatta we celebrated his many achievements. I will not rehearse them, except to note that they include everything from building a cathedral complex, welcoming a pope, promoting the Catholic faith, building bridges to other faiths, campaigning for justice for workers, Aboriginal people, migrants and refugees, women and families, and building up the body of clergy, religious and lay ministers in this Diocese. Bathurst, Armidale and Wilcannia-Forbes have been blessed with similar leadership from him.
“But behind all these headlines was a humble priest of Jesus Christ, a down-to-earth, straight-talking Aussie priest at that, with a passion for God’s ‘battlers’ and a strong sense of duty. We love him for his balance of toughness and compassion, his humility, good humour and an unfailing sense of the Church.“I am pleased to make this presentation to Bishop Manning, Father Kevin, and I thank you my brother for being such a good pastor for 50 years so far. Ad multos annos!”
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