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You lucky, lucky people of Lismore: Marilyn Rodrigues on Bishop Greg Homeming

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The then-Father and now-Bishop Greg Homing OCD pictured with friends at Corpus Christi, St Ives, during his farewell on 19 February 2017. Photo: Corpus Christi, St Ives

“My life has been one in which God’s presence to me has been so manifest in the people who have been around me, in my family and friends.

“Jesus has also entered my life through my weaknesses. In them I have been graced with the experience of the living God. I have discovered to be human is to be weak; that it is weakness that unites us.”

These words are among the first spoken by the country’s newest bishop, Bishop Greg Homeming OCD, to the people of the Lismore diocese.

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He said them at the close of the Mass for his ordination and installation in the last week of February, on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

I dearly hope that now he is a bishop, his homilies will be video recorded and disseminated as widely as possible, at least throughout his diocese. They will do much good.

Through these, many will become aware of God’s glance upon them – the glance of God, as St John of the Cross wrote, which “turns all things to beauty”. Such has been my own experience.

People of Lismore, I know little about your last bishop, Geoffrey Jarrett. I assume he is a good man and has been a true shepherd.

I know more about your new bishop, that you have been given a man who will work alongside you to do whatever needs to be done. Most importantly, he knows how to love.

He will be a shepherd who will love you, guide you, and strengthen you. But he will also be guided and strengthened by you.

And if you want to know and love God better, if you want to heal and grow, if you feel crushed by the weight of your weaknesses and mistakes, he will teach you with eloquence and wisdom as a spiritual son of the founders of the Discalced Carmelite order, St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.

Please pray for him. Also, I beg a prayer for those living in Sydney and elsewhere who have had to let him go to embark upon this new life because it is God’s will.

Our consolation is remembering what he has taught the many people he has preached to and helped in spiritual direction; that our deepest happiness lies in letting go of whatever we would hold too tightly so we can better receive God’s infinite and personal love.

Bishop Greg never aspired to be a bishop and the news initially came as an unpleasant surprise, which has since deepened into gratitude and resolve.

At the ordination, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that he would be the kind of humble and compassionate shepherd needed to regain people’s trust after the ‘dark night of the soul’ of the Church in Australia facing scrutiny as part of the current Royal Commission.

We continue to be confronted in different ways with the ugliness marring the Bride of Christ. This latest ordination has been a good moment to remember that through our desire and efforts to make God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, all will be turned to beauty.

The new bishop assures us that if we “let Christ be our constant companion and friend”, He will lead the way: “Let us treasure Christ through the word of God. Let us carry his word in our hearts, that by mediating on it, it will accompany us in all that we do and say.”

In this he echoes the words of the patroness of his order, Our Lady of Mt Carmel: “Do whatever He tells you.”

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