Bishop Peter Ingham
By Kathleen Carmody
The Catholic community in Wollongong has a new bishop at last, with the appointment of Bishop Peter Ingham to the post.
The diocese had been without a
bishop since February when Bishop Philip Wilson left to take up his appointment as Archbishop of Adelaide.
Bishop Ingham’s appointment has been welcomed by the diocese of Wollongong, with clergy,
parishioners and media alike turning out to give him a warm reception last week.
“A diocese is not complete without a bishop,” said Fr Bryan Jones, administrator of Wollongong. “The diocese doesn’t flourish;
you need a bishop.”
Fr Jones said he was pleased with the choice, describing Bishop Ingham as “a good man to have”.
“Peter and I go back a long way, so from my personal point of view I think he’ll be
great,” he said.
“From the broader view of the diocese, undoubtedly the announcement has been welcome.”
Bishop Ingham, who will leave his position of auxiliary bishop of Sydney to take up his new
post, said he had been surprised and delighted to learn of his appointment.
Although he will miss Sydney, which has been his home for 60 years, he is looking forward to the challenge of getting to know the
people and the diocese.
“I was both honoured and humbled to be chosen and I’m going to give it my best shot,” he said.
Bishop Ingham said his aim was to build on and add to the work of his predecessor
Bishop Wilson, who was dubbed ‘the healing Bishop’ because of his work tackling child sexual abuse in the Wollongong diocese.
“Bishop Wilson was a reconciler and I would like to build on that and add
encouragement to that,” he said.
“I would like to be something of an encourager. I’ll be encouraging (the people of Wollongong) to put fresh heart into and persevere in the faith.”
Bishop Ingham has
held the position of auxiliary bishop of Sydney since 1993 and has played an active role in the life of the archdiocese.
He has been a Member of the Bishops’ Committee for Finance, Liturgy, Ecumenical and
Interfaith Relations and an executive member of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
In NSW, he is the Bishops Liaison for Catholic Corrective Services Chaplains and for the conference of Catholic
Religious Educators in schools and is also vice-president of the NSW Ecumenical Council.
Indigenous affairs have long been an area of interest for the Bishop, who was Episcopal Vicar for Aborigines.
Bishop Ingham has said he will continue his work in these areas in Wollongong, which has a large Aboriginal population.
The bishop wants to meet with the heads of churches and collaborate with them in the way
he has done in Sydney.
Friends and colleagues saay he will be sorely missed in the archdiocese.
“He’s been a great support to the Aboriginal Catholic Community and the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry,”
said Elsie Heiss, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Commission councillor of NSW. “He’s supported us so well, we will miss him terribly.”
“I think he’s going to be a personal loss,” said
Sr Trish Madigan, Liaison Officer of the Archdiocesan Committee for Ecumenism.
Sydney Archbishop Dr George Pell has congratulated Bishop Ingham on his appointment on behalf of the Sydney archdiocese and
wished him well in the new position.
“Our prayers are with him in the coming weeks as he prepares to take up his new ministry of service to God’s people in Wollongong,” said Dr Pell.
“And we thank him
for all that he has contributed while an auxiliary bishop in Sydney.”