Mass of Reception of the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett as Fifth Bishop of Lismore
St Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, Wednesday 12 December
Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett publicly accepted the responsibilities of the Diocese of Lismore, becoming the Fifth Bishop of Lismore. Accompanied to the bishop’s chair by Bishop Satterthwaite (the former Bishop of Lismore) and Archbishop George Pell (the Chairman of the NSW Bishops’ Conference) Bishop Jarrett began his ministry of teaching and pastoral authority in the Diocese. Representatives of parishes, together with their parish priests, welcomed Bishop Jarrett . Those involved in various ministries in the diocese also came forward to welcome the new bishop. Present were the Anglican Bishop of the Grafton Diocese, Bishop Phillip Huggins, Representatives of other Churches, politicians , representatives of local government and diocesan invitees. Bishops of the N.S.W. Province were represented by Archbishop George Pell, Bishop Dougherty, Bishop Ingham, Bishop Matthys and Bishop Walker. The Emeritus Bishop of Wollongong, Bishop William Murray also attended. Visiting clergy from Sydney, Melbourne, Armidale , Hobart, Canberra and Wagga also attended. The mother of Bishop Jarrett, Mrs. Beatrice Jarrett, was also present for the ceremony.
Visiting bishops assemble outside St. Carthage’ s Cathedral Lismore prior to the Inauguration of Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett as theFifth Bishop of Lismore.(from left) Bishop Matthys(Armidale),Bishop Dougherty(Bathurst), Bishop Walker(Broken Bay),Bishop Murray(Bishop Emeritus of Wollongong,)Cardinal Clancy, Bishop Ingham(Wollongong),Bishop Satterthwaite,Archbishop Pell(Sydney) A Sanctuary View of the Inauguration Mass following the installation of Bishop Jarrett as Fifth Bishop of Lismore.
In his homily, Bishop Jarrett spoke of his commitment to being Bishop of the Diocese and his vision of ministry with his priests, religious and people. (The following is the full text of the homily). A splendid cathedral filled to capacity for a special occasion is always a noble and uplifting sight. This great gathering tonight gives us all a sense of not only being taken up into a significant moment in the history of our diocese, but of our participation as well in something so much bigger — our incorporation within the universal communion of the Church as it lifts up and binds together in its worship of the one true God millions in every part of the world today; as it gathers us up also into the communion of the saints across the ages past, and takes us all forward to the focus of all our hopes: the glory of the heavenly kingdom. This cathedral stands in the midst of our community as a witness to the faith of the Church, and a sign of the faith of a people who know themselves to be the living stones of a spiritual building, whose head and cornerstone is Jesus Christ. To the chair which gives this building its title have come four bishops in the succession of the Apostles, and tonight there comes a fifth. He comes like they did, sent to be the pastor, the shepherd, the teacher, the watchman, the sustainer of the gifts the Spirit gives in a marvellous diversity to Christ’s faithful, the weaver of unity, the witness to the hope of the Gospel, and the promoter of the mission of the Church.
The Church of Lismore, the 100,000 of us who live in this blessed and beautiful stretch of the north coast between Camden Haven and the Queensland border, has an enviable heritage of Catholic faith. They were strong and generous believers who raised this lofty cathedral and the striking parish churches that rise on the skyline of many a town and city, who founded the flourishing network of catholic schools and charitable works, who gave their sons and daughters in astonishing numbers to be the priests, and the religious sisters and brothers in large local congregations, who also gave the church in Australia six bishops, two of them made cardinals. Our forebears in faith whose voices once echoed from these walls, whose feet trod these aisles to confessional and altar rail, in rejoicing to marriage and in mourning to requiem, whose knees bent on the same hard kneelers as they prayed in silence before the mysterious Presence: — their spirits surely crowd in upon us at this moment, they watch with recognition what is happening, and from the past, living as they do in the eternal now, I sense they are eager to see how we are going to carry the great tradition into the future. I believe that there is only one way we modern Catholics will do it: and that is by being courageous witnesses to faith. The Gospel reminds us that that’s how it all began. Doubters and sceptics, mockers and even enemies, became believers.
“Thomas, reach out your hand, put it into my side: doubt no longer but believe.” Thus begins the Church, a people who reach out in faith and bow down in adoration, a people above all who are totally attached to Jesus Christ in gratitude for the promise of salvation that is uniquely offered through faith in His death and resurrection, and striven for in the obedience of faith in the communion of His living Body, the Church. A great sense of expectancy and excitement accompanies us as we set our path into the new millennium, and the excitement is very personal to me in taking up this great responsibility as your bishop. To the command to Thomas, “Reach out your hand, put it into my side,” there is added the command to Peter, and echoed to us recently by Peter’s successor: “Launch out into the deep.” We modern believers are placed in our own day at that point, the cutting edge, where the everlasting Gospel intersects with the culture of our age, and our job is to transform it, to bring it to yield a great harvest. It has many disturbing aspects that perhaps make us fearful. Especially it has a malign power to unsettle, to intimidate and even overwhelm those who believe. It seems to be able to inoculate, as it were, many of our young against Christian belief, or blight the promising blossom of faith by distorting its content or attenuating its vision. Today we must be especially on our guard against the weakness of letting the measure of truth be determined by common experience, popular consensus or driven ideologies. In the face of those who complain that the Church lacks contemporary relevance, or that her teachings are behind the times, we must show our own delight and thankfulness that the Church does stand firm on critical modern issues, like strong and wise parents who know what is good and true, and do not give in to their childrens’ every demand.
The Church constantly opens up to us the new world of faith, unfolds before us the revolutionary vision of human life and meaning that the incarnate Lord brought with Him into this world from the eternal wisdom of the Father. Compared with this, it is the world of scepticism, dissent, indifference and nonbelief that is old and stale and boring, and for ever behind the times of the One to whom all times and seasons belong. It is precisely to that spiritual vacuum, the empty human heart that longs for it knows not what, that the Good News is addressed, through the gift of faith that is, in St Paul’s words, more precious than gold. As I commence this pastoral office entrusted to me, I pray that we all will share the excitement of this common vision of Catholic faith, and work together to extend it with enthusiasm by personal witness in every community of the diocese. It is in the environment of determined faith that our family life will flourish, that our marriages will deepen, that our priestly and religious commitment will be renewed, that ministries and apostolates will be energised: in a word, that we will be effective bearers of the holiness of God into the human community of our time and place. The new evangelisation to which the Church calls us also demands once more a confident and articulate assertion of the bedrock truths of Catholic faith. In handing on the teaching of the Apostles as it is transmitted down the ages by the Church, we may observe that there have been few times in our history when it has been more necessary for the Catholic people to know well the substance of the faith and its attendant moral teaching, and have the ability to give their reasons for holding this truth and commending it to others. Yes, a thoughtful, a well informed, and a courageous faith — in short, and for every one of us, what the Holy Father exhorted the bishops to do at the closing of the recent synod: “Have the courage to teach and defend the true doctrine of the Church.”
We welcome the movement of a renewed Catholic catechesis among us, at every level in our parishes, schools and the diocese overall, with the best of modern resources in texts, material and expertise. Attendant to the faith and central to its practice are the sacraments of faith. And central among them is the Eucharist: sacrifice, communion and presence. The Mass we know makes present in every time and place the one, all-sufficient Sacrifice of Jesus Christ so that we can in a community, as well as individually and intimately, draw the benefits and strength of His victory over sin and death into our lives. It is at once the very mystery of faith, and at the same time the nourishment of faith. Whatever else we might have to give up or let go in the week, the Sunday Mass ought therefore to be utterly non-negotiable. Far from feeling the constraint of a serious obligation, as indeed it is, we ought to feel ourselves captive to the drawing power of that love which will never let us go, and seeks our grateful love in return. Anyone who faithfully participates in the Mass week by week, even, and perhaps especially, those who for whatever reason are not able to approach the Eucharist, will never leave without taking an inestimable blessing with them for the bearing of life’s problems and burdens. Many of those things that weigh on our hearts are the consequences of sin, our own and the sins of others. I wish to pass on the encouragement Pope John Paul gave all of us, in his letter for the Great Jubilee, for a renewal of appreciation and use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Again it is not so much a matter of lamenting the all-pervading loss of a sense of sin in our culture which often seems to make a virtue out of what we must consider most shameful, but rather appreciating our need to experience the mercy of the compassionate heart of the Father.
A real challenge lies here for us priests, says the Pope, in not giving in to passing crises but to be confident and persevering in our teaching, our diligence as confessors, and our own example. The ongoing renewal and regular celebration of individual and personal confession will, please God, be a great grace for us in the way ahead. Another confidence I bring before you this evening is that God may inspire an adequate number of young men to dedicate their lives to the priestly service of the Gospel in this diocese. Having done so well for so long, we must be unremitting in prayer and encouragement in home and school, that responses to the Lord’s call will speedily mature in the minds of many of our boys and young men. There can never be a substitute for a priest, and there cannot be a parish without him. A priestless church would no longer be the church; it would but die away. Because the priest is meant to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross, and to stand among the people sacramentally in the Lord’s own place — ‘another Christ’ — of course serious and demanding things are required of him, things which are of the very stuff of faith and high Christian idealism. Here we must really reach out our hand and put it into the Lord’s side with great faith and trust: “Lord, give us priests after your own Heart!” I will be doing all in my power to seek and encourage vocations, and as a bishop I will know no joy like that of bestowing the priesthood on those generous men who respond. In his recent Apostolic Exhortation to the Church in our part of the world, “Ecclesia in Oceania”, the Holy Father pointed out that it is on the basis of our deeper knowledge and understanding of the Church’s doctrine that Catholics will be better able to engage in ecumenical dialogue and cooperation.
The presence with us tonight of Bishop Huggins and clergy and laity representing our brothers and sisters in Christ of other churches bears testimony to the journey embarked upon over years past. I wish to bring my own experience and commitment to this task of making further progress toward the unity willed by Christ, especially in that area of “spiritual ecumenism”, by which is meant an ecumenism of prayer and conversion of heart. In taking up my responsibilities as fifth Bishop of Lismore, I renew my dedication to serve you, Christ’s people, priests religious and laity, in faithful continuity with the devoted service of my predecessor, Bishop Satterthwaite, for whose kindly reception of me as his coadjutor in these past months I also renew my thanks. As a new bishop does, I have written to Pope John Paul the Second in this past week expressing my communion with him in the Catholic Church, the bonds of affection and respect which unite the Church of Lismore to the See of Peter, and asking the Apostolic Blessing. We may be sure that the Apostles as they embarked on their mission drew great inspiration and strength from the constant faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Lord, from the beginning to the present the unfailing Help of Christians. She who believed that the promises of the Lord would be fulfilled will also help you and me in our common endeavour in this time ahead. We ask her, together with our Patrons, St Patrick and St Carthage, to assist us finally to come to that happy end to which our faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of our souls.
Concluding remarks were made by Archbishop George Pell who observed that Bishop Jarrett should have a long tenure in the Diocese as his predecessors have lived long Episcopates….there have been only four Bishops of the Lismore Diocese from 1887 until 2001. He extended congratulations on behalf of his own Archdiocese of Sydney and on behalf of the NSW Province of Bishops. He paid a special tribute to the now “Emeritus Bishop” of the Lismore Diocese, Bishop John Satterthwaite. He said Bishop Satterthwaite would be missed by his brother Bishops for his wise counsel and support. He commended Bishop Jarrett to the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Diocese as a person of great knowledge, a hard worker and a person dedicated to prayer. Referring to many in the congregation as “golden oldies”, Archbishop Pell made a plea for outreach to the young generation who were looking for faith in the spiritual and direction in their life. “We should always lead by the example of our own lives”, he said. Before giving his Blessing as the New Bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Jarrett acknowledged the presence of Cardinal Clancy who had ordained him Bishop earlier this year and who had returned to celebrate this special occasion.
Grace and peace be with you, and my blessing in Christ.
+ Geoffrey Jarrett
Bishop of Lismore.