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Bishop Umber’s meme ministry gains global attention

Catherine Sheehan
Catherine Sheehan
Catherine Sheehan is an award-winning multimedia journalist. Her articles have been published by Catholic News Service, Crux Now, the Catholic Herald and the Herald Sun.
Standing out in a See of memes: recent coverage of the social media dexterity of Sydney’s Bishop Richard Umbers. Source:

Bishop Richard Umbers has proved himself to be a guru of social media, with his posting of memes scoring him a write-up on Church Pop, a popular website that is part of the EWTN network and provides “fun, informative and inspirational” stories from Christian culture.

As a result of the story, the number of “likes” on Bishop Umber’s Facebook page suddenly shot up from 2,800 to over 4,000 in a short space of time.

The article states, “While many bishops share short messages or information about their diocese on their Facebook pages (great to do!), Bishop Umbers is fairly unique for sharing funny memes. They often make a point about the Catholic faith, but not always.”

It then goes on to state, “Memes, done right, can be a highly effective way of sharing ideas in our social media world. But Bishop Umbers only has about 2,800 Likes on Facebook so far – do you think we could get him some more and help spread his messages?”

Bishop Umbers is known around the Archdiocese not only for his bright sense of humour, but for his advocacy of ongoing intellectual formation and his work among young adults – particularly university students and young professionals.

When the story went live, the messages and emails from friends came thick and fast, but for a long time Bishop Umbers was none the wiser.

“I was busy in meetings and so not able to look at Facebook on my phone – all I could see was lots of activity,” Bishop Umbers told The Catholic Weekly.

“Only at the end of the day could I see what the fuss was about.”

He said that despite his newfound popularity on Facebook, he derives greater enjoyment from Twitter.

“My real love is Twitter but I’m happy to communicate with people through a public Facebook Page,” he said.

“I got into memes a year ago with the phenomenon of Harambe. The whole thing was ridiculous in sometimes very creative ways. Then I noticed ‘that boi’ memes with a cycling frog and I guess it just developed from there,” Bishop Umbers said.

“Memes can have the same impact as political cartoons and I often see references on Twitter that young people have come to explore the Faith more when they see funny memes about it. The whole thing has them intrigued.”

Bishop Umbers is an Auxiliary Bishop for the Sydney Archdiocese and he was consecrated a bishop in 2016.

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