Seven bishops ordained in the past couple of years have gathered in Canberra this week for the inaugural seminar for new bishops to assist them as they continue to develop in their ministry.
The idea of the seminar arose during a review of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, with bishops backing a proposal put forward in 2018. Small cohorts of new bishops in 2019 and 2020 stopped the seminar from proceeding, and the planned gathering for 2021 was postponed due to COVID-19.
The seminar for new bishops was designed to complement the annual event the Congregation for Bishops hosts in Rome. The local offering avoids simply repeating the content that bishops would receive in Rome, and includes input from experienced Australian bishops about various aspects of their ministry.
The seminar is an initiative of the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry, which Canberra and Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse leads.
Archbishop Prowse said he has found the gathering enriching for him in his ministry.
“It’s almost 19 years since I was called to serve as a bishop, and these days invite something of a reminiscing about that time and the somewhat overwhelming nature of this vocation,” he said.
“While I was blessed to have key advisers to guide me through my early days as a bishop, the seminar we have developed allows this group of new bishops to capture a lot of important information quickly, but in a casual and collegial environment.”
The bishops participating in the seminar are: Bishop Martin Ashe, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne; Bishop Greg Bennet, Bishop of Sale; Bishop Mykola Bychok CSsR, Bishop of Saints Peter and Paul of Melbourne; Bishop Anthony Ireland, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne; Bishop Karol Kulczycki SDS, Bishop of Port Pirie; Bishop Shane Mackinlay, Bishop of Sandhurst; Bishop Danny Meagher, Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.
Those bishops were ordained between October 2019 and December 2021.
Sessions during the four-day gathering cover topics such as pastoral governance and supervision, professional standards and safeguarding, canon law, synodality and media engagement.
The bishops are also being introduced to the work of the various parts of the Bishops Conference, including the episcopal commissions, the general secretariat and the offices and agencies that support the bishops’ national initiatives.
Archbishop Prowse said the seminar for new bishops will be hosted every one or two years, depending on the number of bishops appointed.
“We will learn from those attending this first seminar how we can refine and improve the content to offer the best possible experience for learning and for fostering fraternity,” he said.