WAGGA Wagga priest Fr Mark Whybrow has honoured his former bishop as a man with a sincere and generous commitment to live the Gospel selflessly through priestly celibacy.
The diocesan priest who is originally from Brisbane said the majority of his priestly training was under the guidance of Bishop Gerard Hanna who officially resigned on Monday.
Fr Whybrow entered Vianney College, the seminary for the Wagga diocese, in February 2000, just two years before Bishop Hanna began his episcopacy.
“It has been a privilege for this Queenslander to serve under the Bishop of Wagga Wagga,” Fr Whybrow said.
The assistant priest at St Michael’s Cathedral, Wagga Wagga, said Bishop Hanna’s “sincere desire” to live priestly celibacy was a great support to many Catholics including fellow priests.
“Bishop Hanna has shown by example, that priestly celibacy is the sincere and generous commitment to conform oneself to Christ and to live out the Gospel in self-giving service to God’s people,” Fr Whybrow said.
“I thank Our Lord Jesus for Bishop Hanna and for the sincere desire that he has in living out priestly celibacy for the people of God.”
Bishop Hanna served as Chairman for the Bishops Commission for Administration and Information and a delegate for Migrants and Refugees, Natural Fertility Australia and Pastoral Research, among other committees.
His time as bishop ended when Pope Francis officially accepted his letter of resignation on September 12 due to health reasons.
Bishop Hanna was Wagga Wagga’s fifth bishop, stepping down after 14 years as the diocese’s episcopal leader.
Archbishop Christopher Power of Canberra-Goulburn has now been appointed Apostolic Administrator of the diocese.
Bishop Hanna, who will turn 75 on December 22, said the past 14 years in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga was “a special time ministering to the people”.
“Due to continuous ill health, it is no longer possible for me to continue my ministry across the diocese,” he said.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the families, parishes and communities across the diocese for their support, engagement and welcome throughout my time as Bishop of Wagga.”
By Emilie Ng