“…as St. Augustine…declared in a sermon on the anniversary of his own ordination, ‘Where I’m terrified by what I am for you, I’m comforted by what I am with you: for you, I am a bishop, but with you I am a Christian. The first is merely an office, the second a grace; the former a danger, the latter salvation. If as a bishop I feel tossed about in the open sea, as a Christian I find myself in safe harbour.’ (Sermon 340) Now Bishop Brian will have the benefit of many safe harbours of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven!”
The WIN Entertainment Centre was transformed into a cathedral and the space was all but filled by enthusiastic members of the Wollongong and Maitland-Newcastle diocesan communities, including religious and clergy, and Bishop Brian’s wide circle of friends and family. There were bishops galore and everyone you encountered was happy to be part of it all.
One of Brian’s country cousins, Pauline Carrigan, reflecting on the occasion, said before the liturgy, “I don’t know what it’s like not to be Brian’s cousin!” The congregation reflected Brian’s previous parishes, including his home parish of MacKillop, the education community with which he remained closely associated after leaving teaching and many for whom he had ‘hatched, matched and dispatched’.
The joyful singing and instrumental pieces were a feature of the liturgy and in his address to the congregation, Bishop Brian said, “As a musician, I love you guys!” Students from more than 40 diocesan schools had many roles to play, including sprinkling the assembly with blessed water and assisting the priests taking Communion to the congregation.
Archbishop Fisher said, “Like Francis of Assisi we are called to rebuild the Church. That will require a teacher’s head, a spouse’s heart, and a shepherd’s soul, as your new vestments tell. But the most important thing you will wear from tonight is the cross of Jesus Christ upon your heart.”
Speaking at the end of the liturgy, Bishop Brian said, “Life can throw up many challenges—ones that can, at times, seem almost insurmountable. When the Apostolic Nuncio rang me at the end of November with the invitation from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to be the bishop of Wollongong, it all seemed totally insurmountable. But, here I am—overwhelmed, nervous, yet open to what the Lord has in store for me and for all of us. I am very conscious of the incredible trust that Pope Francis now places in me.”
As Bishop, Brian retains the motto he took when he was ordained priest: “For all things give thanks.” (1 Thess 5:18).
“I give thanks for the gift and the presence of my mother and father [Margaret and Ron] who brought me for baptism and have been my “first and best teachers” in the ways of the faith and in giving thanks to the Lord.”
Reflecting on it all, Margaret Mascord said, “After the ceremony last night, we feel relieved and also overwhelmed at how beautiful it all was. It amazed me because you can’t believe it’s happening to you ‒ this is Brian ‒ that was very humbling.”
Ron Mascord described the event as, “Something I never expected but we’ll all learn to cope with it… I’m sure Brian will too…”
Gallery courtesy of Brooke Robinson.
Watch Bishop Brian's Ordination