He has showed us what it means to encounter Christ
|At the 2011 Chrism Mass, Archbishop Anthony presented the Cross of Honour to Rev Fr Eric Burton, Pastor Emeritus of Christ the King Parish, North Rocks. Photography: Alphonsus Fok|
Originally published in Catholic Outlook November 2014
By Rev Fr Paul Marshall
On 29 June this year, the feast of Sts Peter and Paul, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop-Elect of Sydney, preached about the importance of leadership in our Church.
In the context of the Soccer World Cup, Archbishop Anthony spoke about how every football team had a captain responsible for the team’s on-field performance and that leadership was vital for success.
He went on to say, with truth and humour, that “our captain must unite our team and by his pep talks, strategies and example lead us all, including the prima donnas and the Maradonnas, to that trophy St Paul calls ‘the crown of righteousness’ (2 Tim 4.6-18)”.
As the Diocese of Parramatta, we pray tribute to our ‘captain’ Archbishop Anthony – who, by his pep talks (homilies, messages of hope and gifted ferverinos) and by his strategies (leading from the front on ethical issues, responses to the Royal Commission, the launching of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in our Future, and a comprehensive review of Catholic education) has given inspirational leadership to our Diocese over the period 2010-2014.
As Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher’s leadership has sought to kick evangelical goals in order to draw people to Christ. His leadership has been especially appreciated by the many young people who have made World Youth Day pilgrimages to Spain and Brazil in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
Contrary to the media opinion, World Youth Day pilgrimages have enkindled faith response in many young pilgrims and have raised up leaders of faith, some of whom are serving in important ministries in the Diocese.
As Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher has had the courage to tackle the difficult issues of the Church of our time. He has supported and blessed married couples, given hope to the elderly, brought an eloquence in preaching the Scriptures, has challenged parishes to be more mission-orientated, encouraged young people to embrace and grow in their faith, and for all of us, clergy and laity alike, to embrace Christ in a more personal way. He has also challenged us to witness to Christ with a new fervour amongst our various communities in Western Sydney.
On behalf of the clergy of the Diocese I wish to acknowledge the dedicated leadership and support that Archbishop Anthony has offered to us as clergy. He has personally invited us to dine with him in small groups so that he would get to know us better.
He has been exemplary in his own personal prayer life and a shepherd to us in his obvious love and passion for our Catholic faith. He has showed us what it means to encounter Christ in His Word and Sacraments. He has stood up for the rights of the unborn and spoken up for the victims of sexual abuse. In a culture which has largely forgotten God and forgotten who we are, Archbishop Anthony has clearly articulated the Catholic perspective on the Gospels.
As our bishop, Anthony has led us on reflection days; he has chaired many a meeting with us and has sought to model what is best in priestly ministry. He has made a big commitment to nurturing vocations to the priesthood and religious life and has invested personally and financially in raising the profile of students for the priesthood.
He has challenged and guided us through his messages of hope in our diocesan magazine, Catholic Outlook, and in his newsletter, Serving Together. In 2011, he called us, as clergy, to a clergy conference to discuss and set in motion the idea of a pastoral plan for the Diocese. We thank you, Archbishop Anthony, for your vision.
As Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony will be missed in the Diocese of Parramatta as a great advocate of missionary discipleship and a courageous proponent of evangelisation for families, youth, migrants, parishes, schools, colleges and the many diocesan ministries and Church agencies.
If, as Pope Francis has emphasised, the primacy of witness in winning people back to Christ has been too self-focused, and, that, as a Church, we need to focus outwards to the margins if we are to be a true mother, then we can do no better than to look to the initiatives begun by Archbishop Anthony: the new face of the Institute for Mission and its reconstituted ministries serving the Diocese, the Pastoral Planning Office, the Catholic Youth Parramatta, the new Family and Life Office, the new Catholic bookshop and Mary MacKillop Chapel in Parramatta CBD and many other new and worthwhile ministries.Archbishop Anthony, we wish you well in your new appointment and we trust you, in turn, have been blessed by the people of the Diocese of Parramatta. We thank you for your apostolic zeal which has taken our Diocese to new and exciting places.
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