One year on

It’s been one year since Bishop Michael Kennedy was installed as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

During that time he’s travelled to every corner of the Diocese to hear directly from the people he now leads.

Having moved to Newcastle from Armidale, one big adjustment has been trading walks in the bush for walks on the beach, but Bishop Michael’s main priority has been visiting as many diocesan parishes, schools, communities, and workplaces as he could.

“It’s a great privilege to lead the community in its prayer and to play a role in helping people feel a bit more touched by God in their life,” he said.

“It’s when I go home after those days that I really feel I’ve done what God’s called me to do.”

Like any big move or new job, Bishop Michael said he has faced normal challenges during his time here, however, he has also learned valuable lessons regarding trust.

“It’s taught me to trust more, both in God and other people. I have to let go more often now than I have in the past, both before being a priest and a Bishop,” he said.

“I’ve had to let go, and trust others to do what they’ve been asked to do, and also place trust in God that He will bring what we’re doing to fruition.

“It’s made me reflect on the concept of trust, and how important it is, at all levels in every aspect of our life as a Diocese, as a Church, how important it is in all relationships, and in everything we undertake.”

The theme of trust has underpinned the Diocese’s most significant milestones over the past 12 months. These include; the Diocese’s review of Religious Education & Spirituality in our schools and the Diocesan Pastoral Ministries; the independent safeguarding audit, and the dedication to healing and support.

As for the coming year, the Bishop’s objective is simple.

To continue with all the good things that are already underway. Bishop Michael said his primary focus would continue to be on the parishes, to support them in building themselves up as communities.

“A parish that’s fully vibrant, is one that’s not only praying together, not only growing their own faith, but also reaching out to others, identifying needs in the community and making a difference in the part of the world where we live. I want to continue building this,” he said.

“For me personally, my focus is always going to be proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus sent His disciples out to proclaim the Gospel and to spread the Good News. We’ve always got to remember those basics.”

While he has a strong vision for the future, Bishop Michael acknowledges the Diocese has been through difficult times. The terrible sexual abuse that occurred and the failures that allowed it to go on, the impact of COVID and modern societal views on religion, have all taken a toll.

Facing tough times, he says, is not always a bad thing.

“Bishop Bill, before me, guided and pastored the people of this Diocese brilliantly through those challenging years. I think the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is a Church that’s been humbled. And that’s not a bad thing,” he said.

“The things that brought about the humbling are bad, and some of them evil. But to be humbled is not bad. We’re going into the future and we’re coming from a place of humility, and that is an excellent starting point.

“I feel a great sense of hope in the Diocese. The focus is outwards toward the world around us. We’re hopeful about the future. We’re poised to go into the years ahead with humility, hope and optimism.”

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