“IN my 38 years as a priest, and 10 as a bishop never, even in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined one day becoming archbishop of Brisbane,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.
However, as the man to be the new Archbishop of Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained, “Jesus often surprises, but never disappoints.”
The archdiocese’s enthusiastic new leader spoke of a determination to “hit the ground running” and of three crucial areas of focus – liturgy, teaching of faith to the young and of encouraging vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
He also spoke of a long and affectionate relationship with former Archbishop of Brisbane Archbishop Emeritus John Bathersby and Queensland bishops including Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville and Bishop James Foley of Cairns, as well as Holy Spirit Seminary rector Monsignor Tony Randazzo.
Archbishop-elect Coleridge was formerly Archbishop of the Canberra and Goulburn archdiocese, having been made a bishop in the Melbourne archdiocese in 2002.
He will be the first non-Queensland-born archbishop appointed in almost 50 years, since former Archbishop Patrick O’Donnell (1965-73) who was born in Ireland.
Archbishop Emeritus Bathersby, speaking from retirement in Stanthorpe, said he was “absolutely delighted” to hear of Archbishop Coleridge’s appointment and that the future of Brisbane archdiocese was “secure in the hands of a great leader”.
Archbishop Coleridge said he “was conscious the archdiocese of Brisbane was a huge field of mission, absolutely bursting with possibilities”.
“I am also conscious of following in the footsteps of some remarkable men and am humbled when I think of the likes of Archbishops Duhig, Rush, Bathersby and many others,” he said.
Brisbane’s archbishop-designate will be installed at St Stephen’s Cathedral on May 11. Archbishop Coleridge’s appointment was confirmed by the Holy See at 8pm on April 2.
He plans to move into the archbishop’s residence at “Wynberg” in New Farm on April 29.
After this he will return to Sydney for a bishops’ conference and other engagements through to May 10.
“So there’s not a lot of time before my installation,” he said.
“I’ll be needing to hit the ground running.”
A keen sportsman, who once played AFL and cricket, he will continue to follow these sports in his brief moments of leisure.
He also confesses to a growing interest in rugby league with a particular interest in the fortunes of the Canberra Raiders.
But cricket is his abiding passion.
“I just can’t wait to see a match at the ‘Gabba,” he said.
“I’ve never actually been there.”
The archbishop-elect brings a distinguished career to his latest field of mission.
Born on September 25, 1948, in Melbourne he is the third of five children (four boys and one girl) of Bernard Coleridge and Marjorie Harvey (both deceased).
He is a theologian and teacher especially qualified in the fields of Sacred Scripture and the Church’s liturgical worship, in both of which he has taught extensively in Australia and overseas. In the five years before appointment as a bishop, he served in the Vatican as an official in the Secretariat of State, receiving the appointment of chaplain to Pope John Paul II.
Archbishop Coleridge has also served as chairman of the international editorial committee responsible for the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which came into use throughout the parishes of Australia late last year.
He continues an international role as chairman of the commission for the preparation of the forthcoming new Lectionary of scripture readings for the Mass.
Archbishop Coleridge said his “overwhelming goal” in his time as Metropolitan Archbishop of Brisbane would be to help grow “a more missionary Church, one looking outward, not inward”. “It’s a time when many are tempted to circle the wagons,” he said. “But now is the time to roll the wagons and look to draw on the spirit of the new evangelisation.”
He said any plans to be made for the archdiocese’s future would take into account “the facts on the ground and the grace of the moment”.
“Our structures, strategies and services can’t reflect facts from 50 years ago,” he said. “But, just because the Church is going through a time of deep and permanent change doesn’t mean it’s going out of business,” he added.
Archbishop Coleridge learnt of his appointment through the papal nuncio on March 24.
“In one sense, it was no surprise as rumours had been circulating,” he said. “However, when it actually happens, there’s still quite an impact – once it comes it’s quite sobering.
“I’m humbled and honoured to have been called to serve and look forward to many years of service in Brisbane archdiocese.
“I would ask the community to pray for me and I will in turn pray for the community in a communion of prayer.”
Press Conference of Archbishop Designate Mark Coleridge with Apostolic Administrator Geoffrey Jarrett at Wynberg, Brisbane, Queensland, 4 April, 2012.