Joy as fourth Bishop of Hamilton ordained

3 Book of Gospels

Bishop Richard Laurenson was ordained as the fourth Bishop of Hamilton in a solemn and dignified liturgy at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the evening of December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Before addressing the congregation, which filled the cathedral, at the end of the Mass, Bishop Laurenson had to clean his glasses.

“I had a speech prepared, but I can’t read it,” he said. “So, if I make a mistake, you will understand why.”

But the new bishop quickly regained his composure and gave a heartfelt and since speech, giving thanks to God and many people.

Bishop Laurenson acknowledged Kingi Tuheitia and mana whenua, and thanked his parents, family and friends for their love, friendship and support.

“To my brother bishops,” Bishop Laurenson continued, “thank you for your kind words of welcome and warm encouragement, as I started to discover what being a bishop means – strewth!!”

The new bishop smiled as he addressed his brother priests. “To my brother priests, I am sure many of you were consulted, and yet, still I was selected. So this is at least half your fault!!”

Bishop Laurenson interacts with people after the Mass.

This brought forth much laughter from clergy and laity.

“I hope and pray we can progress the cause of Christ together in this world,” Bishop Laurenson added.

“To the people of God in Hamilton,” he said, “I pray that I will be a good bishop for you and with you. Pray for me. Pray for your priests. Pray for more young men to respond to the call of the Lord.”

Bishop Laurenson then of his “model” and “guide”, St Richard of Chichester, a 13th century bishop in England.

“Our journey on the waka of St Peter remains the same, even if the stars by which we navigate change over the years,” Bishop Laurenson said.

“In the great prayer attributed to St Richard, we discover the narrative of our journey, I think, together.

“To know him more clearly. A call to each and every one of us to pray daily and to meditate upon the Word of God. Knowledge of Scripture is knowledge of Christ. A call to refocus our catechesis, our RCIA and RCIC, our sacramental preparation; to ensure that these are parish-based encounters with Christ and not classroom lessons about Catholic things.

“To love him more dearly is a call to examine our parish worship and make it the best we can do. To examine our lives, repent of our sins and errors, and commit our lives to him. To forgive others and to give grace that the other may grow in love of God and neighbour. After all, Our Lord has done that for you and for me, and much more besides.

“To follow him more nearly. Since we pray every day, I hope, your will be done on earth as in heaven, we must seek his will in our lives and train ourselves to prefer his will over ours. It is a journey near and towards the cross of Christ, in which we find our hope, our salvation and our joy.”

The principal consecrator at the episcopal ordination was Auckland Bishop Stephen Lowe. Co-consecrators were Wellington Archbishop Paul Martin, SM, Christchurch Bishop Michael Gielen, Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley, Palmerston North Bishop John Adams, Bishop Emeritus of Dunedin Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop Emeritus of Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn, and Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney, Bishop Richard Umbers, who is a New Zealander.

Msgr Giosue Busti, the Charge d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, read out and showed the papal bulla in which Pope Francis appointed Bishop Laurenson.

In his homily, Bishop Lowe said it was fitting that the ordination should be on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

“This solemnity is about the unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation,” Bishop Lowe said.

“. . . Bishop Richard, today your ordination day, is not so much about you, but rather about the power of God, working through you. It is about Christ, who calls you to be his shepherd as bishop of the flock of Hamilton. As bishop, as shepherd, you must seek the stray with tenderness and lead them to the heart of our God, and in doing so, you are to make the words of Mary your own. . . . I am the servant of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me. . .”

Bishop Lowe noted that one that Bishop Laurenson had made to him “was that canon lawyers don’t usually get made bishops”.

“So I went to Pope John Paul’s Pastores Gregis – his exhortation on the bishop, servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World – and  I just googled Pastores Gregis, and without a word of a lie, the link opened up with these words that ask us to look to Moses as the figure of the bishop, as the friend of God and the pastor and the guide of his people.

“Moses was chosen and sent by the Lord, courageous and leading his people toward the promised land; faithful interpreter of the Word and law of the living God, and mediator of the covenant, ardent and confident in his prayer on behalf of his people.”

Bishop Lowe also stated that, “when Bishop Richard joined the rest of us bishops at our recent bishops’ conference, we were deeply moved by just how humble he was”.

“He realised the enormity of the task ahead of him. And he knew, like all of us know, our own weaknesses. But in the end, it is the Lord who calls us, it is not our choice.”

Bishop Lowe also noted that Bishop Laurenson is the first Bishop of Hamilton to have been born in the diocese.

At the start of the Mass, cathedral parish pastoral assistant Andrea Savage said that Bishop Laurenson “is very much tangata whenua in this place”.

He was baptised in the former church on the site – the Church of the Holy Rosary – and did all his schooling at local Catholic schools, St Mary’s, Marist Intermediate, and St John’s College.

In 1984, he was confirmed at Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Bishop Edward Gaines – the first bishop of Hamilton, and in 1995, he was ordained by Bishop Denis Browne, the second bishop of Hamilton, Ms Savage noted. Now his principal consecrator – Bishop Lowe – was the third bishop of Hamilton. And Bishop Laurenson is now the fourth.

Ms Savage added that the ring worn by Bishop Laurenson on the day was made from his late father’s wedding ring, and from the rings of both his grandmothers.

“Today we celebrate, but we also remember that the task ahead is huge. I’m sure the promise of each one of us is to support our bishop prayerfully and practically,” Ms Savage said.

After Communion, Bishop Laurenson walked up and down the cathedral blessing the people, while the hymn “Mo Maria” was sung.


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