The Bishop’s Letter – “All Good Things …”

04/11/2014

Catholic Outlook November 2014 Letter of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP
Installation Mass of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP as the third Bishop of Parramatta, Thursday 4 March 2010. Photo: Bob and Michael Armstrong.

Catholic Outlook November 2014 Letter of Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop-elect of Sydney and Administrator of the Diocese of Parramatta

(Originally published in Catholic Outlook November 2014)

“All good things must come to an end.” The old English proverb suggests celebration of achievements, grief at things passing, acceptance that nothing lasts indefinitely. When Geoffrey Chaucer first said in 1374 that “There is an end to everything, good things as well” the emphasis was on things coming to their completion.

I feel all those things as I say goodbye to the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. I have loved being your Bishop – even more than I guessed I would before I came here. I have found the people of Western Sydney full of faith and promise, and my colleagues in leadership and service true disciples of the Lord Jesus and great collaborators.

When I think of all the good things, I think in particular of our Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Faith in Our Future. Released in February 2014, it was the fruit of long consultation and distillation. It offers hundreds of practical ideas on how we might be a better Church for Western Sydney. It embodies the youthful energy and hopeful orientation of the Church in this part of the world: full of trust in the Lord’s Providence as we grow in faith and grow our faithful.

Already, all round our Diocese, parishes and agencies are implementing decisions and recommendations from Faith in Our Future. At the Chancery’s end we’ve kept faith with the plan by establishing the Family and Life Office, the new Office for Safeguarding and Professional Standards, and the new Pastoral Planning Office, as well as completing some parish reconfiguration.

Our new Holy Spirit Seminary is well under way and we are fast filling it with excellent young men. We have invited new religious congregations to join the long-established ones. We have revamped Catholic Youth Parramatta and modernised the Chancery and Communications.

There have been improvements to St Patrick’s Cathedral and there are more to come. So as to expand our social welfare services we’ve opened the new Aboriginal Catholic Centre in Emerton and the new All Saints of Africa Centre in Blacktown, and we have taken on services in Baulkham Hills and Mamre.

Assisted by the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution initiative we managed the largest program of building and renewal of school facilities ever undertaken in our Diocese; now the amenities in many of our schools are first class. At one stage I was getting RSI from the blessing motion as I sprinkled holy water on new teaching spaces day after day, week after week!

“All good things …” Important as things are, it’s people, in the end, who most matter. I will remember fondly my World Youth Day pilgrimages and other events with our young people and our new school principals; fruitful conversations with pastors, education and agency leaders, and so many of the faithful; the many occasions I’ve had to preach and teach.

Initiatives to deepen the sense of Catholic identity and mission in our schools – such as the daily angelus, regular formation of principals and staff, and the Religious Education (RE) Review – bode well for making our schools more truly centres of the New Evangelisation.

Amongst my most precious memories are the specifically priestly works of baptising, absolving, communicating, marrying and anointing people in Western Sydney, as well as the specifically episcopal ones of confirming, ordaining and administering the last rites to some of our dedicated clergy and, ultimately, burying them.

I record my gratitude to you all for this. Thank you for your many kindnesses to me and your service to Christ and His flock. I have been delighted by the level of collaboration with the leaders, staff and people in our parishes, schools, agencies and chaplaincies. Some great things have been achieved and I am confident there is so much more to come.

“All good things must come to an end” – except God, of course, who is not a thing but the immutable ground of all things. Things, including bishops, come and go. “Our time passes quickly and we are gone.” (Ps 90:10)

When I googled that quote from the psalmist to find the reference, I got “How to end your life quickly”. It was a very sad collection of suicide stories and techniques offered by various Dr Deaths. It brought home to me how much there is still to do, in the Diocese of Parramatta and beyond, to renew the ideals, practices and institutions that underpin our peaceful democracy, affluent economy and cohesive society. And there is much to be done by the Holy Spirit and those who believe in Him to purify and renew our Church.

I’ve often said that I think Parramatta is the easiest Aussie diocese of which to be bishop. The fact is that we are young and vital, diverse and growing in so many ways; we have excellent pastors and people; we have every reason to have great hope, great Faith in our Future.

As my time with you comes to its completion, I thank you for all your prayer and support: you have upheld me with your faith and devotion, your loyalty and love. Thank you for your dedicated service to Jesus Christ. You will always remain close to my heart and I promise to remember you in my prayers.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

 

(Most Rev) Anthony Fisher OP

Archbishop-elect of Sydney

Administrator of the Diocese of Parramatta

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