It is unusual for AD2000 to mark an ordination, but the episcopal ordination of Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green of Wilcannia-Forbes deserves special mention.
This is a country diocese which was destined for closure, a consequence of the decline in rural communities and of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Since the last bishop resigned, the diocese has been without episcopal leadership for over five years.
The present appointment marks a decisive turning point in the history of the Church in Australia.
The new bishop is a late vocation, and was born and educated in Forbes, the NSW country town. He is one of the first priests from the Vianney Seminary in the Wagga Wagga Diocese, founded in 1992 by the late Bishop Brennan, and the first in Australia to be established in conformity with St John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, Dabo Vobis Patres (I Will Give You Priests).
The reforms it inaugurated have transformed the Diocese, which now has the highest ratio of priests to laity in Australia. Its example has been followed by other diocesan seminaries, with a subsequent upsurge in the numbers of priestly ordinations.
Bishop Macbeth-Green is one of the first of the John Paul II bishops in Australia, as well as the former Australian provincial of one of the most ancient orders in the Church today, the Order of St Paul the First Hermit, custodians of the most famous icon of the Church in Poland, the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, as well as the inspiring Marian Shrines in New South Wales and Queensland.
His episcopal appointment is one of the most positive and encouraging events to have taken place in the Church in Australia this year.
– Peter Westmore is Publisher of AD2000.