A priest well known for his success in nurturing vocations to the priesthood as a seminary rector has been named by Pope Francis as a new Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney.
Fr Danny Meagher, who is currently the Administrator of All Hallows Parish, Five Dock, has served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney for over 25 years, including six years as Rector of Good Shepherd Seminary.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said Fr Danny has made a remarkable contribution to the life of the Archdiocese and his appointment will be warmly received by the priests and people of Sydney.
Archbishop welcomes appointment
“I have worked with Fr Danny for many years. He was one of my chief collaborators working on World Youth Day in 2008 and back then, I observed the very determined and practical, ‘can do’ man behind the spiritual priest”, Archbishop Fisher said.
“As Rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Fr Danny gave a great gift to the Church in Sydney and beyond in the many zealous and fruitful priests who came forth from the seminary in his time- and many of these sung his praises to me”.
One of the more memorable moments from this period was the ordination of seven priests at one Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in August 2019. Yet ordinations to the priesthood were consistently strong across the years that Fr Danny served as seminary rector, including four new priests in his final year there. He has also helped nurture a vocation in his own family with his nephew Fr Matthew Meagher being ordained in 2018 and is now Administrator of St Brendan’s Annandale and St Michael’s Stanmore.
From country to city
Born 10 November 1961 in the NSW Riverina town of West Wyalong, Bishop-Elect Meagher was the second of six children to Alan and Elizabeth and his family left their farm to settle in Sydney when he was a baby.
“Life was very difficult, so we sold up and moved to Sydney, first living with relatives and then my father bought the Commercial Hotel at Port Kembla”, he explained to The Catholic Weekly.
It was to be the start of a publican career for the Bishop-elect’s father which included ownership of the Matraville hotel for 25 years.
Work with homeless
“Alongside my siblings, we all worked at the hotels and I guess we learned how to get along with all kinds of different people and to manage different situations. The ‘Matto’ as it was affectionately known, was a pretty rough sort of place”.
Bishop-Elect Meagher was educated by the Jesuits, completing his secondary schooling at St Ignatius College Riverview in 1979.
He went on to study economics and law at the University of Sydney and it was doing these years that he felt a strong calling to serve the marginalised, volunteering at the Mathew Talbot hostel for homeless men and also at the local St Vincent De Paul conference at St Canice’s parish in the inner Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Bay.
The margins led to God
“Working in the hotel, I guess, instilled a camaraderie with those who might be doing it tough. I have long had a desire to work with the homeless, from these uni days.”
Fr Danny Meagher was able to go back out to the peripheries earlier this year, spending six months working with the homeless and the marginalised in inner Sydney.
“I spent a lot of time ministering to the homeless, living at Surry Hills and travelling down to parks around Central where they congregated. I also got to know a lot of people living in the housing commission areas. I am attracted to that because I find that by being close to people on the margins, I come much closer to God. I hope to continue that as Bishop”.
Mat Talbot Hostel
Fr Meagher has been a vocal advocate for the homeless, saying Mass weekly at the Matthew Talbot hostel and also volunteering to help the homeless at David’s Place and through the homeless support services provided by the Order of Malta.
“We need to do that work as a Church, reminding us that the poor are our treasure. The great deacon, St Lawrence, the 3rd century martyr, was asked to present all the treasures of the Church to a Roman emperor, Valerian, who was persecuting him. St Lawrence brought along the homeless and the disabled and said- ‘Here is our treasure’.
While Fr Meagher practised as a solicitor with Mallesons Stephen Jaques for three years after graduation, he knew the Lord had other plans for his life.
From solicitor to priest
“As for my vocation, I have always wanted to be a priest. As I grew up in a good and loving Catholic family, I came to love God more and more and this love is the golden thread that holds my life together”.
Since his ordination in 1995 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop-elect Meagher has ministered in 10 parishes: Mt Pritchard, Mosman, Gymea, Hoxton Park, Carnes Hill, North Leichhardt, Broken Hill, Penshurst-Peakhurst, Strathfield and Five Dock.
He was Administrator of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Broken Hill for two years from 2012-2014 and has made a remarkable contribution across community boards, such as Catholic Care, as its Director of Mission from 2006-2012 and as Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate program from 2008-2012.
Studies in Rome
Fr Meagher also spent two years studying in Rome from 2004-2006, receiving an STL (Licence in Fundamental Theology) from the Gregorian Pontifical University.
He has served on the Council of Priests, the College of Consultors and Trustees of the Archdiocese and the Board of The Catholic Weekly and as a fellow and councillor of St John’s College in the University of Sydney and a member of the Charitable Works Fund Appeal Tribunal, the Committee for Ongoing Formation of the Clergy and the Commission for Ministries and Orders.
Archbishop Fisher said his service to the Catholic community has been exemplary and the people of Sydney are blessed to soon welcome him as an Auxiliary Bishop.
Sacramental life a priority
“That he has achieved so much in his first 25 years as a priest is a tribute to his generosity as a man who gives his all for his Lord, his Church and the task at hand whatever it is. We can look forward to great things in the next 25 years!”
Alongside his commitment to serving the disadvantaged, Bishop-Elect Meagher said he would also like to do all he can to strengthen sacramental life, particularly for Catholic school students.
“Our parish-school network is the greatest asset we have in the Church and to get that moving along- I believe I can give no better service to the Church”, he said.
‘Thousands seek Jesus’
“So many thousands are looking for Jesus in the sacraments and if we can celebrate them lovingly and with respect, I think we can attract so many people back to the regular practice of the Mass”, he added.
Fr Danny Meagher will be ordained an Auxiliary Bishop at a Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Wednesday 8 December at 7pm. He will join Bishops Richard Umbers and Terence Brady as the third Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney.