Dr GEOFF LEE ( Parramatta ) ( 18:38 ): Today I welcome and congratulate the new Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, OFM Conventuals. Bishop Vincent was installed as Bishop of the Western Sydney region for the Parramatta Diocese on Thursday 16 June in a moving and inspiring installation mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. Bishop Vincent is the fourth Bishop of Parramatta, having filled the vacancy created by the previous Bishop, Anthony Fisher, OP, upon his installation as Archbishop of Sydney. I offer my best wishes and those of this House for the continued recovery of Archbishop Fisher. Late last year he suffered from Guillain‑Barre syndrome which left him paralysed but I understand that he is doing much better now. I also acknowledge the superb contribution of Father Peter Williams who acted in the role of Administrator for the Parramatta Diocese for the last 20 months while the diocese did not have a bishop.
Bishop Vincent’s installation was attended by thousands of the faithful and visitors including Bishop Vincent’s close family and friends. The installation mass was such a significant and well‑attended event that a big screen had to be installed in Prince Alfred Park to broadcast the mass live to the many parishioners who were not able to fit into the cathedral. The mass was also live-streamed on the internet, which was an innovative and inspired idea that allowed many who were unable to attend the celebration in person to follow the proceedings. The Hon. Greg Smith, who was a member of this House, was one of those who were able to watch the mass live‑streamed to the internet.
Bishop Vincent has been praised as a bridge builder, reaching out to some of the most vulnerable members of the community and those who the church has not traditionally embraced. I quote Bishop Vincent:
There can be no future for the living church without there being space for those who have been hurt, damaged or alienated, be they abuse victims, survivors, divorcees, gays, lesbians or disaffected members.
Western Sydney will be well supported with a bishop who is willing to embrace and welcome all people. Parramatta is one of the most diverse and vibrant regions in New South Wales.
The story of Bishop Vincent is a typical Australian story—a man from humble beginnings who now leads a congregation and who serves his community with grace and distinction. The new Bishop of Parramatta was born in 1961 in Gia-Kiem, Vietnam. He and his family came to Australia as refugees in 1980. Since then, he has played an active role in the church and in the community. Bishop Vincent was ordained as a priest on 30 December 1989 and then went to Rome for further studies, where he was awarded a licentiate in Christology and Spirituality from the Pontifical Faculty of St Bonaventure. He then returned to Australia and was elected Superior of the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals in Australia in 2005 before being installed as Bishop of Parramatta. During his homily, Bishop Vincent noted that he was very humbled by his appointment saying:
I am very honoured and humbled by this appointment and grateful for the opportunity to serve the Church in Parramatta during this time.
This statement reflects the humility of Bishop Vincent and highlights the dedication and commitment he will bring to the role.
I also recognise the excellent work of Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in the Parramatta Diocese. Greg has been an extremely hardworking and effective director who has helped to champion and create better and more innovative schools in the region.
On behalf of the Parramatta community and the members of this House, I welcome Bishop Vincent to his new role and look forward to working with him to build a stronger and more welcoming and diverse community. The final words must go to Bishop Vincent. He reminded us that the Australian Vietnamese community had already taken over many of our traditional industries but he warned us that the Australian Vietnamese community is moving into the church and would soon be moving into politics. We welcome him and other Australian Vietnamese church leaders. We also welcome Australian Vietnamese as they move into the area of politics.
Mr MATT KEAN ( Hornsby ) ( 18:48 ): I join the member for Parramatta in welcoming Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen and congratulating him on his appointment to the Diocese of Parramatta. I join with the member for Parramatta and the member for Granville, who is in the Chamber today, in celebrating this appointment. Bishop Vincent’s story is a great story, not only for all Catholics but for all Australians. Bishop Vincent fled Vietnam in 1979. He got on a boat with 147 other refugees to make the perilous journey across the seas. His appointment today is exciting because he reflects the face of modern Parramatta, of modern Western Sydney—that a migrant who has come from a different part of the world and has chosen this to be their home has made a difference. That is what Bishop Vincent is doing and I join the members for Parramatta and Granville in congratulating him. I look forward to celebrating and working with him in his ministry as he continues to live out the message of Jesus Christ in our community.
Ms JULIA FINN ( Granville ) ( 19:03 ): By leave: Refugee Week draws attention to the plight of the world’s 21 million refugees, at the same time as reminding us of the enormous contribution made to Australia by people who have come here seeking refuge from war and political persecution. It was a great honour as a local member and as a Catholic to attend the inauguration of the Parramatta Catholic Diocese’s new bishop last week, the Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen. Our diocese’s new bishop came to Australia as a refugee by boat from Vietnam in 1979. He is one of the many refugee success stories and he is also a strong advocate for a compassionate approach to refugees.
Dr GEOFF LEE ( Parramatta ) ( 19:13 ): In reply: I thank all members who have contributed to the discussion on this matter of public importance in Refugee Week. I refer to members representing the electorates of Summer Hill, Holsworthy, Granville, Cabramatta and Ballina who agreed that refugees have added so much over the past couple of hundred years to Australia not only in terms of economic development but also of social development, cultural spirit and our ability to be a great peaceful and harmonious nation. This country is an exemplar to the rest of the world of how Australia, the most diverse place with people from around the world, can still function well.
The member for Summer Hill made particularly clear the entrepreneurial spirit of some of the residents in her electorate, for example, Habib Asbati from Lebanon who is a great success story built upon hard work in a food stall. He loves to interact with the public and I am sure he will do very well in the future because he is taking advantage of Australia as a better place to live, and Australia is giving refuges an opportunity to be everything they want to be. I support the kind words of the member for Granville about the Bishop of Parramatta and his quintessential refugee story. He escaped from Vietnam on a boat with his family. They took their lives into their own hands coming to Australia and he has now risen to the role of Bishop, the leader of the Parramatta Diocese, a truly significant role in the fastest-growing and youngest diocese throughout Australia. The member for Granville reflected on the economic impact and the cultural contributions to society by refugees.
The member for Holsworthy made a positive contribution. She said that the Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre was a wonderful place building capacity in her area and is doing some truly inspirational work through casework activities, playgroup, referrals, youth service, social events and festivals. The member for Cabramatta touched our hearts and spoke of his own personal story when in 1948 he and his parents came from a refugee camp in Egypt. He said recently he visited there and saw the graves of close family members. It was great to hear the personal story of the member for Cabramatta about coming to Western Sydney and about refugees working hard to carve out a life. Obviously all members of this House commends all refugees from right around the world who make a fantastic and positive contribution to society.
Source: Hansard https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Hansard/Pages/HansardFull.aspx#/DateDisplay/HANSARD-1323879322-90655/HANSARD-1323879322-90726