WAGGA Wagga’s sixth bishop might be an answer to the diocese’s prayers but Bishop Mark Edwards is certain the appointment was a “mysterious choice of God’s”.
Bishop Edwards, who was installed as the sixth bishop of Wagga Wagga on July 22, said it was “mysterious to me” why he was chosen to lead the rural New South Wales diocese.
“I acknowledge that I’m not a bishop because I’m perfect, rather it’s a mysterious choice of God’s,” he said.
“It’s mysterious to me.
“As a forgiven sinner, along with you, there are parts of my life which are still very messy, but to be bishop of this diocese is a call from God through the Church and it makes me, while a fellow disciple with you, also having a special role in this diocese.”
Wagga Wagga Catholics have prayed for four years to have a bishop, following the retirement of Bishop Gerard Hanna in 2016.
Archbishop Christopher Prowse of the neighbouring Canberra and Goulburn archdiocese has served as apostolic administrator until Bishop Edwards’ installation.
“I am grateful to the people and clergy of the diocese, who’ve made me so very welcomed and have prayed for a bishop and our diocese,” Bishop Edwards said in his first address as shepherd of Wagga Wagga.
“I, apparently, am an answer to prayers.”
The ancient reception and installation liturgy was overshadowed by the escalating health crisis in New South Wales, with the bishop greeting his fellow bishops, clergy and other representatives of the diocese with elbow bumps.
A virtual choir made up of local Catholic school students also presented the new bishop with a song.
Bishop Edwards thanked the faithful for their perseverance and endurance during a time when Mass has been suspended.
“My reading is that it will be with us for a long time, I don’t know, maybe another couple of years,” he said.
“For that time, I urge you as a fellow citizen, a fellow disciple, as a leader of this Church, to continue to learn what’s safe and to practice that.
“It’s our way of caring for our brothers and sisters.”
Bishop Edwards acknowledged those who were streaming in to his installation Mass, including his family and friends, fellow Oblate Missionaries and former colleagues and students of Iona College, Lindum, where he was rector for four years.
Historic moments were also woven into the liturgy, including the presence of the crozier, episcopal ring and pectoral cross of the first bishop of Australia, former Sydney Archbishop Bede Polding.
Bishop Edwards said he was “morally certain” the archbishop’s “treasures”, brought into Wagga Wagga by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, were with Archbishop Polding “when he was providing care and worship and connection with our God as he travelled around our country”.
Bishop Edwards said his installation as the Bshop of Wagga Wagga also coincided ith another historic moment, the release of a book detailing the first 103 years of the egion.
The book is titled Consider the Crows,and written by Fr Justin Darlow, who is parish dministrator of the Ganmain parish in the Wagga Wagga diocese.