Bishop Michael Kennedy’s address after his episcopal ordination and installation

My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” With these words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I give all praise and thanksgiving to God today.

May God be praised for his gift to me of family life founded on the sacramental marriage of my mother and father. May the Church continue to safeguard and promote the right of every person to begin their life in this way.

May God be praised for calling me to be a ‘fisher of men’, participating in the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ. It has been a true joy to be a member of the Wagga Wagga presbyterate, and to exercise this priesthood in the service of the baptized faithful throughout the Wagga Wagga diocese. May God continue to bless the bishop, the clergy, and the lay faithful of my home diocese.

May God be praised for calling me now to the Armidale Diocese, and for laying upon me, through the consecrating hands of bishop Matthys, Cardinal Pell, and bishop Hanna, the sweet yoke of being your shepherd. Please pray that I exercise the bishops’ triple office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing you in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd who lay down his life for his sheep.

May God be praised for granting his Church the pastoral leadership of Pope Benedict XVI. It is my privilege to be a member of the College of Bishops, responsible for the People of God with and under the successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ on Earth. May the Lord preserve him, grant him strength, and make him blessed upon the earth.

For my Episcopal motto I have chosen Jesus’ final mandate to the Apostles recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: “Euntes Docete”; “Go out and teach”. This resonates in me as a successor of the Apostles in present day Australia, a great nation struggling to remain faithful to its Christian identity. Not only must we go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel; in our time we must proclaim it anew to our own baptized faithful: whole and entire, without alteration, distortion, or omission, explaining the mystery of Christ and his Church so that the Divine Logos, The Word of God, bears fruit in new life. You simply cannot love who you do not know, and you cannot live what you do not understand. Catechesis in all stages of life must be a priority in the Church’s pastoral life.

The Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops states that “the Bishop should consider his responsibility for Divine worship to be his pre-eminent role”. (142)…“he should devote himself constantly to fostering the life of grace in his flock through the celebration of the sacraments”. (143) We are a sacramental Church: We receive ‘life to the full’, that is, we participate in the Divine life of Christ, by our fruitful celebration and reception of the sacraments. Each one of us, beginning with me, must reach out to our fellow Catholics who are no longer fully engaged in the sacramental life of the Church and invite them home. This is particularly so for the Eucharist which is the “source and summit of the whole Christian life”. For our part, we bishops and priests must give great care and attention to the worthy celebration of Sunday Mass since the preservation and nourishment of the faith of so many people depends upon their participation in this weekly Eucharist. (148) I invite everybody in the Diocese to join me in praying daily for vocations, especially to the priesthood, so that we are never deprived of the sacraments of the Church.

As I begin today the task of chief shepherd of the Church of Armidale, I am heartened in the knowledge that I am not alone. I have my brother priests, who, as cooperators with the bishop, also bear with him the co-responsibility of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, and I know I can rely on the support and prayers of you, the faithful. Please pray that I do what is right and preach what is true. Please pray that the care of the shepherd never be lacking for his flock.

?I have fond childhood memories of gathering for the family rosary every evening; of living and growing under the protective mantel of Mary, the Mother of God. As I renew today my own personal consecration to our Lady, let us also entrust the life and growth of the Church of Armidale, and especially those affected by floods in the parishes of Moree, Wee Waa, Walget, and Narrabri, to our Diocesan Patron, Our Lady of the Rosary.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

Bishop Michael Kennedy was ordained and installed as the tenth bishop of Armidale on Thursday 9th February 2012. He was Chairman of the ACCC from 2005 to 2009.