Dunedin bishop says he will trust in God

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The words for Bishop Michael Dooley’s episcopal motto came to him in the middle of the night.

Those words are “Trust in God”, the seventh Bishop of Dunedin told more than 1000 people at the Dunedin Town Hall on April 26 at a Mass at which he was ordained as bishop.

“I had no idea what the motto for my crest would be. It was a source of anxiety in the last few months,” Bishop Dooley said.

“But in the middle of the night, one night I woke up and I got up and it came to me and I wrote it down. It was, as you can see, ‘trust in God’.

“So this has been a theme in my life and it will be [a] theme as I take on the privilege of leading this diocese of Dunedin in the shepherding role as bishop.”

Bishop Dooley spoke about his bishop’s pastoral staff and how it reminded him of aspects of his upbringing on a sheep farm in Southland.

With his sister and brothers, he used shepherds’ crooks on the farm to catch sheep and lambs in need of attention.

“To tell you the truth, this staff [I’m holding now] does not look as though it would stand up to a feisty Romney ewe,” he said; a remark which prompted ripples of laughter.

But Bishop Dooley noted the Christian symbolism of the pastoral staff, going back to Jesus the Good Shepherd, and symbolising the shepherding role of a bishop.

“I am privileged to hold this staff in this diocese,” he said.

“Thinking of the staff and the symbolism, that goes right back to Jesus, I am reminded of the faith that’s been planted in our hearts by God. And it is precious and powerful, whether it is in a small country district, or whether it is in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.”

He noted the Catholic Faith of his parents and that of his ancestors, who had brought it with them from Ireland.

Looking at the people in the Town Hall who had come from Dunedin, North, Central and South Otago and from Southland, Bishop Dooley said it all seemed a long way from Heddon Bush where he grew up and from his childhood parish of Nightcaps.

But he did have some experience of the Dunedin Town Hall in his early years — when he once watched on TV a Miss New Zealand Pageant held there.

“It is certainly not the Miss New Zealand show here tonight,” he quipped, again to laughter.

Bishop Dooley thanked all who had supported him in his ministries as a priest and as vicar-general of Dunedin diocese, especially Bishop Emeritus Colin Campbell.

“The last few months I have really felt the people uplifting me,” he added.

“Thank you all for coming here tonight. It is quite overwhelming.”

He finished by saying “let us continue to pray for each other”.

Earlier in the Mass, Bishop Campbell started his homily by recounting a story of some Chinese people who were asked to name their favourite Gospel passage.

The account they liked the most was not what might have been expected — the Beatitudes, or the Resurrection, Bishop Campbell said.

Rather their favourite was the Last Supper story in John 13 of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples and bidding the disciples to do likewise.

Bishop Campbell preached on the identity of the bishop as servant. And he noted the invaluable service given by his own secretary Pauline Lee and indeed by all bishops’ secretaries.

All the bishops of New Zealand dioceses were concelebrants at the Mass with Bishop Campbell as principal celebrant. Also concelebrating were retired Bishops Denis Browne, Owen Dolan, Peter Cullinane, Stuart O’Connell, SM, and Basil Meeking and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Martin Krebs, as well as dozens of priests from Dunedin diocese and from throughout New Zealand.

Archbishop Krebs read out the mandate from Pope Francis, in which the Pope noted the bishop-elect’s proven qualities, as well as his experience of theology and local pastoral matters.

“May the light, strength and joy of the Holy Spirit with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary be always with you and with the very dear church community in the beloved New Zealand,” Pope Francis wrote.

At the start of the Mass, Bishop Campbell welcomed the bishops, priests and people, local MPs Clare Curran and Michael Woodhouse, Dunedin Mayor David Cull and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, University of Otago chancellor Dr Royden Somerville, QC, and Professor Paul Trebilco from the University of Otago Department of Theology and Religion, members of other churches and city councillors.

A Maori speech of greeting (mihi) was given by Richard Kerr-Bell.

During the Mass, the new bishop’s ring, mitre and staff were processed in by students from the four Catholic secondary schools in Dunedin diocese — St Kevin’s College, Oamaru, Kavanagh College, Dunedin, St Peter’s College, Gore, and Verdon College, Invercargill.

Communion thanksgiving hymns were sung by the Tongan and Filipino communities. The Samoan community presented the Book of Readings.

The Mass was live streamed and viewers included Bishop Dooley’s relatives in Ireland.

People’s positive reactions to liturgies and to new bishop

NZ Catholic asked four people for their reactions to the ordination and installation celebrations and to their new bishop.

Paul and Marie Langsford, Riversdale: Marie — the services were fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed them. We were here for Bishop Boyle’s many years ago and so it was nice to come. Paul — the same. They were magnificent. I do know Bishop Michael’s brother John quite well, so that has brought us along, and also the fact that it is a new bishop for the diocese. I will reiterate what Marie said, we were here in 1983 for Bishop Len’s ordination, so it was great to be back.

Abigail Currie, Dunedin: They were beautiful services and I was honoured to be there and be part of [it]. I’m very excited to have Michael as our new bishop. It is going to be an exciting time ahead.


Br Graeme Donaldson, CFC, Dunedin: I thought last night was a great exhibition of Catholicity, of the Catholic Faith. The town hall was 1000 plus and it was just wonderful to see those 11 bishops on the stage, and the clergy. Today was wonderful and the Catholic people of the diocese — North, South and Central Otago and Southland, they really came out in their numbers for our new bishop.
Bishop Michael is a good man . . .a good choice among the clergy and we are so pleased to have him as our new bishop.

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