This week the Australian Bishops are meeting for the first of our two annual meetings (This is of course happening online!)
Last year as a new Bishop I attended a formation time for new Bishops, sometimes called by some ‘Baby Bishops School!
The title of the nine days formation time was ‘Bishops for a Synodical Church’.
Bishops from many countries took part during this time. Many people addressed us and we had many fruitful discussions in small groups. It was a worthwhile experience.
The title ‘synodical’ is very close to Pope Francis’ heart. The Church is synodical. It emphasises that Bishops are meant to work in partnership with others in the service of the Church. A Bishop as a Christian leader is called to be very much a servant leader and is called to work in partnership with others.
A Bishops is meant to be a leader, but not ‘THE BOSS’. A Bishop is called to genuinely listen to others and work with others. He does not know it all, only God does!
Yesterday I met with the Bishops group that ministers with Aboriginal people. We shared information, ideas and concerns. We were very open and honest. There were things that we had no answers to. We encouraged each other to serve with love and prayer as we sometimes agonised on challenges facing people that we serve.
When I was first Ordained as Bishop I started meeting with the Bishops and I had my preconceived ideas of them. As I got to know them, I saw disciples of Jesus endeavouring to do their best to serve the Lord. We are a motley group, so many personalities, backgrounds, and theological preferences. Yet there is something that unites us. This became very clear last year when we did a retreat together. It is our faith and trust in Jesus, acknowledging our human limitations and weaknesses, and trusting in Him.
In my own diocese there is a group of five lay people. Three women and two men, who are a Diocesan Leadership Group as key partners and advisors with me. I really value their wisdom and discernment.
All the baptised share in the priesthood of Christ, in the prophetic role of Christ and the ‘Kingship’ of Christ.
Together we need to discern what God is saying to us as Church in our time, in our place.
We want to be faithful to the Holy Spirit and to Jesus. We are not about creating our own Church but about being the Church that God wants us to be.
We are all called to holiness in our different vocations. We are all called to be good news!
We are called to be wounded healers. We are called to cooperate with Christ in His ongoing reform and renewal of the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A truly servant , healing and humble Church in the service of all!
God Bless you today.
Bishop of Darwin