Diocese pays tribute to Bishop Kevin’s ministry

19/04/2010

Bishop Manning is greeted by well-wishers. Photo: David Tang
Bishop Manning is greeted by well-wisher. Photo: David Tang

People from across the Diocese and beyond gathered in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 11 April 2010 to farewell Bishop Kevin Manning, who has retired as Bishop of Parramatta after nearly 13 years. Previously, he was Bishop of Armidale from 1991-97.

The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, led a prayer service that brought together priests and deacons, religious and laity, civic dignitaries, and ecumenical and interfaith representatives.

In his homily the Vicar General, Fr Robert McGuckin, spoke of Bishop Kevin’s special pastoral ministry, in particular his passionate belief in the call of lay people to action and to holiness, his prominence in ecumenical activity, and his commitment to interfaith dialogue.

Fr Robert described Bishop Kevin as “a man of action for justice”. “He took every opportunity to expound the social teaching of the Church which he regarded as a forgotten treasure. He is regarded as a man of courage by his fellow bishops.”

Following the service, the Diocesan Financial Administrator, John Spillane, spoke of Bishop Kevin’s close relationship with staff in the Chancery and diocesan ministries.

He paid tribute to Bishop Kevin’s vision for the rebuilding of St Patrick’s Cathedral after it was destroyed by fire, saying the Bishop “led the project with tremendous energy and made many courageous decisions along the way”.

Sr Ailsa Mackinnon RSM, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, said Bishop Kevin had shown genuine interest in the work and welfare of the 400 religious in 53 congregations in the Diocese.

“Bishop Kevin has shown respect for our charisms and the roles we fulfil. He has supported and encouraged us in our work.”

She said Bishop Kevin took a leadership role in the participation of women in the Church, particularly with the number of women in decision-making roles in the Diocese.

She described his leadership as prophetic in extending the hand of friendship to Muslim brothers and sisters. “He is open to hearing other points of view and comes with an open mind.”

Cathedral parishioner, Kirrily Aguilera, described Bishop Kevin as a humble man of the people “who always took time to listen and speak with people after Mass”.

She recalled how young people spent many Sunday nights with the Bishop talking about life and faith over pizza (with anchovies). “Bishop Kevin was our Bishop, but also our friend.”

Bishop Kevin said it had been a privilege to serve as the Bishop of Parramatta. He said one of the biggest challenges was the rebuilding of St Patrick’s Cathedral and thanked all who collaborated in the task.

He recalled a day when he was walking through Prince Alfred Park on his way back to the presbytery. “There were more shrubs in the park then there are now, and quite a few homeless men could be found sleeping there. On this particular day, one of the men approached me with a paper bag scrunched in his hand.

“He offered the bag with the words ‘we had a whip-around, and that’s for your church, Father’. As I said on the day of the Consecration of the Cathedral, St Patrick’s is a home for everyone.”

Bishop Kevin said he was grateful to all the people of the Diocese for their faithful living of the Christian life. He thanked the priests for their support “in particular in the decision to begin our own seminary, a very significant undertaking for the Diocese”.

The Bishop said that although farewells were tinged with sadness, “we must see these changes as part of the bigger picture, as part of God’s plan for the Church of Parramatta”.

“The words of St John resound here: ‘Beloved, if God loves us, we must also love one another’ (I Jn 4:11). As I take my leave from loving friends, let us always remember that the Church belongs to Jesus and that we are privileged to serve her, even if only for a season.”

Photos from Bishop Manning's farewell can be found here.


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