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Giving the people hope

New leader: Bishop-elect Michael McCarthy during his time as rector of Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary, Banyo.

New leader: Bishop-elect Michael McCarthy during his time as rector of Holy Spirit Provincial Seminary, Banyo.

By Paul Dobbyn

ROCKHAMPTON’S Bishop-elect Michael McCarthy found the perfect position description for his new role while on retreat preparing to take the leadership reins.

“The description of the bishop’s role was in Pope Francis’ exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel),” he said.

“I read it while on retreat at Tarrawarra Abbey run by the Cistercians in Melbourne.

“Pope Francis was saying a bishop should walk out in front to give people hope.

“The bishop should be beside them as a merciful presence in their midst and also he should walk behind to encourage those who may be lagging.”

Excitement was the main emotion as he prepared to leave Brisbane and head for his May 29 ordination in St Joseph’s Cathedral.

“I’m sad leaving Brisbane, saying goodbye and gathering with family and friends,” he said.

“But it’s a wonderful diocese to which God is sending me – I’ve already met some wonderful people and I’m getting lots of lovely cards, and notes and telephone calls from all over Rockhampton diocese.

“They’re all saying: welcome, welcome, welcome.

“One message which really struck me was from one of the local priests.

“The priest’s message said ‘it’s good to be praying for Michael our bishop’.

“When you reflect on that. Wow, I’m going to be their bishop.”

There’s been a sense of haste since the news of his appointment was first received while he was in his role as Brisbane archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for clergy.

“It’s all happened so quickly – between the time you’re nominated and you’re ready to go,” he said.

“You think you’ve got lots of time to prepare.

“But when I finished Easter Sunday in the parish, I had a week to get out of the parish (Hendra) and then go on retreat with the monks of Tarrawarra Abbey.

“The retreat was a time of being at peace, letting the inner self be at peace.”

Gratitude was another clear emotion for the bishop-to-be.

“Father (John) Grace (apostolic administrator) has been doing a magnificent job and keeping it all together,” he said. “Which I’m extremely grateful for … he’s a really good priest and leader too.”

A program of visiting centres throughout the diocese is firming up.

“I’ve set up a program of visiting every region and every parish in the diocese during the first three months,” Bishop-elect McCarthy said.

“My first weekend I’m in Rockhampton and Yeppoon.

“The second weekend I’m out to Barcaldine to be met by Fr Matthew Moloney who will take me in his car to visit Longreach, Blackall and other areas in the diocese’s far west.

“Then there’s Mackay, Gladstone, Bundaberg and so on.

“I aim to meet key leaders of the diocese.

“Apart from that I have no other plans. It’s just listen, listen and listen.”

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