After the service in the Oblate Chapel we gathered around the table to have lunch as a family. For us Oblates is just part of who we are to celebrate the events of one of us as something that touches everyone. I am sure Fr Mark could sense the joy, support and gratitude of all Oblates gathered around him.
The Ordination Mass took us to the origin of the Church’s life and mission. When Archbishop Hart and other bishops laid their hands on Fr Terrence and Fr Mark one could only think about when it all began: two thousand years ago Jesus Christ chose the Twelve and gave them power and authority which have been faithfully passed on from one generation to the other. This simple gesture of laying hands reveals that the Holy Spirit works through inconspicuous situations and events of life. We could dream about his extraordinary and spectacular interventions but the Spirit of God choses the effectiveness rather than spectacles. This effectiveness aims at transforming the person in order to transform the Church.
At the beginning of the rite of the Episcopal Consecration the Bulls of the Holy Father were read out by the Papal Nuncio. Those Bulls are the Apostolic Letters issued by the Pope appointing priests to the ministry of bishop. The solemnity the Nuncio read out those documents with and their unusual form of scrolls highlighted the unity with the Holy Father. The Episcopal Ordination bridged Melbourne with Rome. However what I found very powerful those documents were very personal and in fact they were more letters of the Pope addressed to the bishop-elects. I think that it came across very clearly that Episcopacy is not a promotion but a call from Jesus discerned and evoked from the heart of the Church. The authority of the Holy Father does bring encouragement, support and peace for those who are called to the ministry of bishop. The Holy Father himself assures the candidates of the authenticity of their calling to serve the People of God as bishops.
When I saw Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Papal Nuncio to Australia, it was not only a sense of such closeness to the Pope Francis whom the Nuncio represents but the Archbishop Gallagher’s presence brought us also close to St Eugene de Mazenod. Archbishop Gallagher’s apostolic lineage or succession comes through St Eugene de Mazenod. St Eugene, who was Bishop of Marseille, ordained a few bishops himself, most of them were missionary bishops for various mission countries, but among those bishops ordained by Eugene was also an Oblate who later became Cardinal Archbishop of Paris in France. During his time as Archbishop of Paris he ordained a lot of bishops and in this way today we have not only Oblates who refer to St Eugene as their father but there are a number of bishops in various countries who say that in their Apostolic Succession thay have St Eugene de Mazenod as their “ancestor”