‘It's been the privilege of my life’: Bishop ready to depart

Bishop Peter Ingham.
Bishop Peter Ingham.

Bishop Peter Ingham knew this day was coming almost two years ago.

For it was on his 75th birthday that Bishop Ingham submitted his resignation.

Yet there was a “sense of relief’’ for Bishop Ingham when the Holy Father Pope Francis named Father Brian Mascord as the fifth Bishop of Wollongong in the early hours of Friday morning.

‘’I think it’s time to go,’’ Bishop Ingham told the Mercury.

‘’I’ve been the Bishop here for 16 and a half years and prior to that I was eight years as an auxilary Bishop in Sydney.

‘’So the responsibilities of the load lifted is a real blessing. Particularly as you get older.

Outgoing Bishop of Wollongong Peter Ingham and (inset) Bishop-elect, Fr Brian Mascord. Bishop Ingham is looking forward to stepping down and reconnecting with family.

Outgoing Bishop of Wollongong Peter Ingham and (inset) Bishop-elect, Fr Brian Mascord. Bishop Ingham is looking forward to stepping down and reconnecting with family.

‘’I'm 77 in January and people say I look well, which I do, but my mind and my body is that of a 77-year-old. It is time to go.’’

Living and working in the Illawarra has been one of many highlights for Bishop Ingham.

‘’It has been the privilege of my life to have been entrusted with the stewardship of this Diocese for the past 16 years, and I shall certainly miss the interaction I have had with the wonderful people of this region,’’ he said.

Bishop Ingham also enjoyed being a part of World Youth Day in 2008.

‘’Even earlier than that in 2007 we had the Journey of the Cross around our Diocese and we took that big World Youth Day cross right around every parish, around the whole Diocese,’’ he said.

‘’It was wonderful. We took it over the Sea Cliff Bridge, we took it down to Nowra and Kangaroo Valley. It was a real highlight because the response to that was wonderful and the publicity was good.’’

Some have sadly even taken their own lives, and that breaks my heart and it's caused a great sorrow.

Bishop Peter Ingham

But the last two years have been tough for the Church and Bishop Ingham.

‘’The greatest sorrow is the fact that children and vulnerable adults have been abused by people in positions of trust and the realisation that abuse has a long tail,’’ he said.

‘’Some people's lives have been seriously damaged and their ability to form relationships forever impaired.

‘’Some have sadly even taken their own lives, and that breaks my heart and it's caused a great sorrow.’’

After the Bishop-elect is ordained and Bishop Ingham completes his duties as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wollongong, he plans on reconnecting with loved ones.  

Time to make way, welcome new Bishop

On the day the fifth Bishop of Wollongong was announced, the outgoing Bishop Peter Ingham was busy doing what he does best – giving comfort to others.

But Bishop Ingham still took the time to pay tribute to his successor.

‘’Bishop-elect Brian Mascord—current Vicar General of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and also the parish priest of MacKillop (including Charlestown, Gateshead and Redhead)—comes with a great track record as a pastoral priest,’’ Bishop Ingham said.

‘’I am delighted with Pope Francis’ choice of such a fine priest to lead the Diocese. I am looking forward to catching up with Bishop-elect Brian next week when he visits the Diocese.’’

Bishop Ingham has been appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wollongong until the new Bishop is ordained and installed as the fifth Bishop of Wollongong.

This is expected to occur within the next three months.

As a young man Bishop-elect Brian Mascord admitted he ‘’wasn’t overly keen on the idea of priesthood’’.

In an article for the MacKillop diocese he said he grew up in a family of faith but ‘’wasn't overly keen on the idea of priesthood’’.

‘’It took me a number of years to finally listen to what God was asking of me,’’ he wrote, noting that people suggested he would make a good priest, and asked ‘’When are you going to stop fooling around and think about going into the seminary?’’

He has been an ordained priest for more than 25 years.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Denis Hart said Bishop-Elect Mascord brings a wealth of experience in parish ministry, education, chaplaincy and governance.

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