by JOHN FONG
Twenty years of episcopal ministry of Bishop Emeritus Denis Browne in Hamilton diocese was celebrated in a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Hamilton on April 16.
Joining in the celebration were Cardinal John Dew, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Martin Krebs, Bishops Stephen Lowe, Patrick Dunn, Owen Dolan, Barry Jones and Stuart O’Connell, together with priests, deacons and people of the diocese.
Bishop Browne was bishop of Hamilton diocese from 1994 to November 22, 2014, when Bishop
Stephen Lowe succeeded him. He had earlier been Bishop of the Cook Islands and Niue (1977-1983) and the 10th Bishop of Auckland, from 1983 to 1994.
He was bishop of three dioceses over 38 years.
Bishop Browne was ordained a priest on June 30, 1962, at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland and
served in Gisborne, Papatoetoe, Remuera and Tonga (1975-1977). On June 29, 1977, he was consecrated a bishop in Auckland. He became the Bishop of Auckland on August 24, 1983, and served there until 1994, when he became Hamilton diocese’s second bishop on the death of Bishop Edward Gaines.
In his homily, Bishop Browne told how the apostles focused their attention on the Risen Lord. Those powers given to the apostles are given to bishops today.
The primary purpose of a bishop is to proclaim the Word of God and to apply it to the congregation he serves. It’s a frightening responsibility, but it is the Lord who does this, he said.
Priests share in the role, and this task is collaborative with the bishop, as the parish belongs to the bishop. It was good, he said, to see priests warmly welcome Bishop Lowe into their midst.
The Chrism Mass is special as the priests renew their vows to the Lord. Bishop Browne sensed the love and loyalty of the people gathered that day and witnessed the commitment of the priests — may Bishop Lowe be blessed.
Quoting St Ignatius, Bishop Browne said priests should be in relationship to, and correspond closely with, the bishop. They should be attuned to the bishop, like the strings of a harp, moving as one in harmony.
Through baptism, he said, we share this spirit of life in Christ. The congregation’s faith uplifts bishop and priests.
Bishop Browne concluded with the blessing that the bishop and priests walk with the people, as together “we walk the journey of our Risen Lord”. Bishop Lowe thanked Bishop Browne for being a good and faithful servant. “There is sadness in this occasion, as a bishop has a spousal bond with the people that he loves. In a way, the relationship changes and it is the closing of another chapter in the history of the Hamilton diocese.
“You have touched the people individually. As priest and shepherd, you have led them to Jesus
Christ. May the Lord care for and bless you,” he said.