THREE knocks on the door of St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral and Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O’Kelly welcomed in the ninth Archbishop of Adelaide – Archbishop Patrick O’Regan.
Ancient ceremony and lockdown restrictions clashed in an historic ceremony as Archbishop O’Regan was brought into a near-empty cathedral at an Installation Mass on May 25.
Only about 30 people were involved in the Mass but it was livestreamed online to about 6000 people and later broadcasted on local community television.
In his homily, Archbishop O’Regan said many people were looking on today who had helped him to where he was now, and he thanked and welcomed them to “virtual Adelaide”.
He also touched on COVID-19.
“Yesterday, we celebrated the great feast of the Ascension (of the Lord), a feast which in a notable way celebrates loss – distance and isolation – as well as great hope,” he said.
“All things with which over the last two months in particular we have become all too familiar.
“So Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father, the apostles are perplexed, feel isolated and they are plunged into an unfamiliar time.
“That in-between time seems rather interminable – the liminal becomes the normative, the waiting becomes the real.
“And yet they were harbouring in their generous hearts, a promise, as we all do as well.
“A promise that the overshadowing of the holy spirit would come upon them; they could hear those slightly enigmatic words of the two messengers that were left behind after his ascension whispering in their ears and their hearts – Jesus will be back.”
It was a message that the Holy Spirit could overshadow the suffering in COVID-19 because God’s promise was coming, the promise of Pentecost was coming.
He said it was the day “we see God’s utter faithfulness made manifest”.
“The Spirit was promised, the Spirit appears, the Spirit remains,” he said.
He also mentioned a message from God that he had experienced after moving to Adelaide.
“Yesterday afternoon I decided to go for a walk to clear my mind,” Archbishop O’Regan said.
“I noticed a new piece of concrete in the footpath and someone in that inimitable Australian style had simply written into the fresh concrete the words – ‘We can do this’.
“To me it was one of God’s wonderful daily interventions, reminding me how that grace, that overshadowing (by God) is always present.
“It was a little encouraging word to me (that) we can do this, with God’s help, with the Spirit’s overshadowing, we can do this together.
“Just over five years ago, I came to adopt a prayer, a very simple one – ‘God is good’, with the response ‘God is good indeed’.
“The people of Sale are probably sick of hearing it, but since that day I have repeated that phrase many times and nothing has happened in that time that has caused me to stop saying it.
“As long as God wants me here, may it be so.”
Archbishop O’Regan was appointed by Pope Francis to the Adelaide Archdiocese on March 19, following the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson in July 2018.
In the interim, Bishop O’Kelly had been Apostolic Administrator as well as Port Pirie bishop.
Archbishop O’Regan arrived in Adelaide on May 5 and spent two weeks in isolation due to coronavirus restrictions.
He was originally from Bathurst, New South Wales, and he was ordained a priest in 1983 and consecrated as Bishop of Sale in 2015.