A Liturgical Reception and Solemn Mass of Installation celebrated the appointment of former Vietnamese boat person, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM ConV, as the fourth Bishop of Parramatta at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta tonight.
The Mass was concelebrated by Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Reverend Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, the archbishops and bishops of Australia, clergy of the Diocese of Parramatta and visiting clergy.
Prayers of the faithful were read in Malayalam, Arabic, Auslan, Cantonese, Spanish and Polish representing the ethnic diversity across the diocese.
In his homily, Bishop Long said, ‘I am about to be cast into the deep interior of Western Sydney all the way to the beautiful Blue Mountains and the fertile plains of the Hawksbury River’. The Diocese of Parramatta spans one of the fastest growing areas of Australia. It is home to 330,000 Catholics in an area of 1,050,000 people.
Bishop Long told clergy and parishioners that ‘after 19 months without a bishop, you have been given one in the person of a Vietnamese Australian and a former boat person. Perhaps, you can add my appointment to the list of surprises that Pope Francis has done’.
‘Here in Sydney’s West, I am told, asylum seekers and youth radicalisation are politically charged issues. As a former boat person, I have a certain kinship to those who are alienated and marginalised. As your bishop, I am committed to be a bridge builder.
‘What we are witnessing as the people of faith is the flood of secularisation that has washed away much of the church we’ve known and loved. We have been battered and bruised.
‘We have to admit with the greatest humility that we have not lived up to that fundamental ethos of justice, mercy, care for those who have been hurt by our own actions and inactions. And so in the eyes of many, whatever aura of respectability we’ve got left has evaporated with the sexual abuse crisis. The Royal Commission has been a lightning rod, an uncomfortable spotlight, but hopefully a catalyst for transformation.’
The bishop added, ‘There can be no future for the living church without there being space for those who have been hurt, damaged or alienated, be they abuse victims, survivors, divorcees, gays, lesbians or disaffected members. I am committed to make the church in Parramatta the house for all peoples, a church where there is less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity.’
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart said, ‘Bishop Long has used his considerable gifts to reach out to many people in Melbourne, he is a fitting leader of Australia’s biggest non-metropolitan diocese in Parramatta’.
‘Bishop Long brings to Parramatta a wide knowledge of people and a deep compassion for them. He has endeared himself to so many by his genuine interest in people’s spiritual needs, he will be a very effective pastor in Parramatta.’