Fr Paul Bird CSsr, Provincial of the Redemptorists, is appointed Bishop of Ballarat

Fr Paul Bird CSsr - Bishop-Elect of Ballarat

The following media statements contain information about the appointment on 1 August by the Holy Father of Fr Paul Bird CSsr as Bishop of Ballarat. The retiring Bishop Peter Connors and the Bishop-Elect Paul Bird are assured of our prayers over the coming months.

Fr Paul Bird CSsr will be ordained Bishop on 16 October, 2012.

Statement from Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the ACBC

On behalf of the Australian Bishops and for the bishops, priests and people of the Province of Melbourne, I warmly welcome the announcement of the appointment of Father Paul Bird CSsR as Bishop-elect of Ballarat.

Father Bird has given distinguished service to the Redemptorist Order as Provincial and as retreat-giver, liturgist and teacher.  For twenty years from 1987 he was Superior of the Redemptorists in Melbourne and editor of Majellan Publications.  After fifteen years as a member of the Provincial Council, he has served as Provincial since 2008.

We welcome Bishop-elect Paul and know that his exceptional gifts will bring rich blessings to the people of the Diocese of Ballarat, whom he will serve with faith, generosity and love.  He is a gifted leader and will be welcomed warmly by the people of Ballarat Diocese and beyond.

St Alphonsus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists

Statement from the Bishop-Elect Paul Bird on his appointment as Bishop of Ballarat

I’m feeling excited but also rather nervous about taking up the role of bishop of the diocese of Ballarat. The nervousness comes from the fact that this role will involve new responsibilities and I’m not sure how I will go in meeting the challenges involved. At the same time, I’m excited at the prospect of meeting the people of the diocese and doing whatever I can to encourage them in their faith and in their Christian lives.

I did spend four years in Ballarat as a student, from 1968 till 1971, at the Redemptorist seminary in Wendouree. That gave me an introduction to the city of Ballarat and some of the country areas and I look forward to coming to know more in the years ahead as I travel throughout the diocese.

Bishop Peter Connors phoned me straight after hearing of my appointment and gave me a warm welcome. I hope to follow the great lead that Bishop Connors has given in his kindness and compassion.

Bishop Peter Connors, retiring Bishop of Ballarat

Statement from Bishop Peter Connors on his retirement:

In March 2011, shortly after my 74th birthday, I tendered my resignation from the office of Bishop of the Diocese of Ballarat.  This was a year earlier than the usual age of 75, and was prompted by a number of health concerns that remain with me till this day.

Having just completed fifteen years of ministry as Bishop of the Diocese of Ballarat, I am grateful that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted my resignation and appointed my successor.

I am full of joy and thanks to God that Father Paul Bernard Bird CSsR has been chosen as the eighth Bishop of Ballarat.  He will bring with him wonderful gifts of personality, of spirituality and of academic excellence.  Our Diocese is being specially blessed during this Year of Grace.  I ask that you pray for him as he prepares for his Ordination on Tuesday 16th October.  Meanwhile, at the request of Pope Benedict XVI, I shall be the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese.

In my letter of resignation, I mentioned that I had met personally with a considerable number of victims of sexual assault inflicted by priests and religious of the Diocese, prior to my coming to the Diocese. The current Parliamentary Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations will no doubt examine how the Church in Ballarat has responded to these victims, and I remain committed to assisting that inquiry as it examines this disturbing and complex issue.

I will continue to live in Ballarat, and I look forward to participating in the life of the Diocese as a retired Bishop.

I wish to thank all the priests, religious and lay people who have worked with me during my ministry in the Diocese of Ballarat, and who contribute so much to the many communities of the Diocese.  It has been a great privilege to serve as Bishop of the Diocese over the last fifteen years, and I have every confidence in God’s continued blessing for our Church.

Over the years I have drawn much inspiration from Christians of many denominations and from people of other faiths, as well as from those who profess no particular faith but give generous service to those in need. I’m sure I will be able to draw continuing inspiration from such people all through the Ballarat diocese.

In the next few weeks I will need to finalise a number of matters in my role as provincial of the Redemptorists and hand over tasks to Fr Pat Corbett as the new provincial. I also hope to spend some time in Ballarat to meet some of the priests and people of the diocese as well as preparing for my ordination as bishop on October 16.