THE Diocese of Armidale has honoured the passing of its ninth Bishop, Belgium-born Luc Matthys, as “a man of profound faith and wisdom”.
The 85-year-old died on Australia Day after a short illness, will be farewelled at a Solemn Funeral Mass at Saints Mary & Joseph Cathedral, Armidale this Friday, February 5.
Having moved from Belgium to South Africa during his childhood, Bishop Matthys was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg in 1961.
Moving to Australia, he became a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne in the 1976 and was appointed Bishop of Armidale in 1999. He retired in December 2011.
A tribute from the Diocese of Armidale described Bishop Matthys as “a noble spirit”, someone who was “kind and gentle of heart” and “a man of profound faith and wisdom”.
In a reflection after leading the flock in Armidale for more than a decade, Bishop Matthys wrote: “During the year 1999 I was able to visit every parish in the diocese and meet the clergy and people all over this large territory. Everywhere I was made most welcome. I was able to see the great evangelising work of those who have gone before us. I resolved to continue this great tradition of the Catholic Church in New England North West.”
“Ever since I have attended many parish functions and occasions; in particular to confer the sacrament of confirmation. A grand total of just over 5,000 young people have presented to me for confirmation in 26 parishes of the diocese.
“At the same time I note that almost 7,000 baptisms took place. And one of the joys in going to parishes is the debutante balls held in many of them.”
Vigil prayers and the liturgical reception of the Bishop Matthys’ body will take place on the evening of February 4 at Sts Mary & Joseph Cathedral, with a funeral Mass the following day, starting at 11am.
More information about the two events can be found on the Diocese of Armidale’s website.