On Saturday 23 April, Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, announced with sadness the news of the death of his immediate predecessor, the Emeritus Bishop of Lismore, John Steven Satterthwaite. The bishop died in Port Macquarie, NSW, in the south of the Diocese. He was 87 years of age.
Bishop Satterthwaite’s remains will be received into St Carthage’s Cathedral for a Vigil of Prayer on Sunday, 1 May 2016 at 6.30pm, prior to the Mass of Christian Burial on the following morning, Monday 2 May, 2016, at 10.30am.
Bishop Satterthwaite was born at Randwick in Sydney, on 11 August 1928. His primary education was at Ashford State School, and his secondary education was entrusted to the Marist Brothers at St Joseph’s College, Hunter’s Hill.
Having gained entrance to university, he enrolled in the faculty of Engineering, Civil Division, and took up residence at St John’s College, Sydney, in 1946. Academically brilliant he graduated in 1949 with a degree of Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Division), and thereafter was employed as a junior engineer with Australian Iron and Steel, Port Kembla.
Two years later, however, John Satterthwaite was accepted by Bishop Edward Doody to study for the priesthood for the Diocese of Armidale, NSW. He studied philosophy at St Columba’s College, Springwood, but shortly after commencing theology at St Patrick’s College, Manly, in 1953, he left for Rome to study at the Irish College and at the Lateran University.
Father Satterthwaite was ordained a Priest in Rome on 16 March 1957, by Archbishop Luigi Traglia. On his return to the Diocese of Armidale, the young priest was appointed as assistant in the parish of Glen Innes. In 1962 Bishop Doody brought him to the Cathedral city to be his secretary and Chancellor of the Diocese, with the added responsibility of Rector of St Mary’s Minor Seminary.
On 6 March 1969 John Steven Satterthwaite was named by Blessed Paul VI as Titular Bishop of Tignica and Coadjutor Bishop of Lismore. His Episcopal Ordination took place in in St Carthage’s Cathedral on 1 May 1969, the principal Consecrator being His Eminence Norman Thomas Cardinal Gilroy, Metropolitan Archbishop of Sydney, assisted by Archbishop Thomas Cahill (Canberra and Goulburn) and Archbishop James Gleeson (Coadjutor, Adelaide).
With the retirement of Bishop Farrelly on 31 August 1971 the Coadjutor Bishop succeeded to the See as its fourth bishop.
From the beginning Bishop Satterthwaite maintained the traditions of of his predecessors in a demanding programme of parish visitations and the oversight of existing ecclesial structures, diocesan, parochial and lay. Early in the thirty years of his Episcopate, Bishop Satterthwaite initiated a reassessment the pastoral needs of the Diocese. He established a Diocesan Pastoral Council and a Council of Priests. A diocesan pastoral plan was established which led to the erection of new parishes and the amalgamation of others. During his term in office he ordained 45 priests.
Bishop Satterthwaite, at a time of considerable change following the Second Vatican Council, encouraged and directed by teaching and precept the implementation of the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy throughout the diocese. Within his own Cathedral in 1977 he supervised the rearrangement and extension of the sanctuary for the better provision for Mass facing the people. He greatly loved the Cathedral, spending early hours of prayer each day before the Blessed Sacrament, and making it the centre of his pastoral ministry.
In the field of Catholic school education the Bishop approved the reorganising of the Catholic Schools Office in Lismore. Among notable decisions were the appointment of an Episcopal Vicar for Education, and of a lay Director of the Schools Office. In 1982 he instituted the annual meeting over several days of the parish priests, school principals and key lay staff, which has proved immensely beneficial to the progress and Catholic identity of the parish schools.
The diocesan policy to support charitable works was a continuing preoccupation of the Bishop. He arranged for the Diocese to become responsible for the management of St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Lismore; the St Joseph’s Cowper Children’s Home and two Homes for the Aged. The Bishop encouraged parishes to provide care for the Aged and supported the Sisters of Mercy and the Society of St Vincent de Paul in similar projects.
On 1st December 2001, the Holy Father St John Paul II accepted Bishop Satterthwaite’s resignation as Ordinary. He was succeeded by his coadjutor bishop, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett.
In retirement Bishop Satterthwaite assisted in the pastoral work of St Agnes’ parish for some fifteen years until the time of his death.