The Most Reverend Gregory Homeming OCD was ordained the sixth Bishop of Lismore on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter at St Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, on the evening of 22 February 2017.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Most Reverend Anthony Fisher OP, was the Principal Ordaining Bishop. The Principal co-consecrating Bishops were the Most Reverend Peter Ingham, Bishop of Wollongong, and the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop Emeritus of Lismore. The Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, His Excellency the Most Reverend Adolfo Tito Yllana read the Papal Bull in Latin followed by a translation in English.
On the steps of the Cathedral, Jill Rokovada extended a Welcome to Country to Bishop-elect Homeming and the assembled Archbishops and Bishops on behalf of the Bunjalung people. A smoking ceremony also took place.
Bishop Homeming was born in Sydney on 30 May 1958 to an Australian Chinese family. He joined the Discalced Carmelite Order in 1985. The new bishop adopted as his motto, ‘God Alone Suffices’ from St Teresa of Avila, the founder of his order.
In his opening words, Archbishop Fisher acknowledged ‘the nuns of the Goonellabah Carmel who for the past 50years have made the charism of the Carmelite family present in this diocese’. He welcomed visiting clergy and religious, representatives of the other churches, members of the Chinese-Australian community, and other distinguished guests. The Archbishop also paid tribute to Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett for his service as the fifth Bishop of Lismore from 2001 till now.
“As our first Chinese-Australian prelate, Bishop Homeming is a sign of the changing face of the Church in Australia,” the Archbishop Fisher said in his homily.
Referring to the Royal Commission’s scrutiny of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Fisher said, “there can be no doubt that many episcopal, priestly or religious shepherds failed in the past to protect the lambs of Christ’s flock as they should. Some betrayed the mission given them by Christ and the trust given them by His people. At this time the Catholic community and especially the bishops hang their heads in shame, in apology, in determination to ensure such failures do not happen again”.
“Some might think this is no time for making new bishops; I sympathise with their disenchantment. But there is a providence in God calling a man like Greg, with his legal background, critical intelligence, spiritual wisdom, pastoral sensitivity, and gentle soul to help lead us forward at this time. Bishop Greg must be a wise leader, a glad shepherd and, finally, an authentic witness to Christ.”
The new Bishop received a diocesan welcome at the entrance of the sanctuary from diocesan clergy, religious, the lay faithful engaged in various ministries, and ecumenical and civic representatives.
Following the ordination, Bishop Homeming told the congregation, “I am your bishop; with the emphasis on ‘your’. I belong to you. The people, religious and priests of Lismore will show me my job. I will listen to you, and together we will discern God’s will for our diocese. Our weaknesses and failings will not be an obstacle because, I believe, they will guide us. As Our Lord said to St Paul, ‘I am strong in your weakness’.
“My role is that of a shepherd who leads his people, with a simple focus, to stand in the presence of God. I pray that I will not be an obstacle. I pray that you will come to know the love of Christ and be filled with the utter fullness of God.”
The Diocese of Lismore encompasses the North Coast of the state of New South Wales, extending from Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah in the north to Port Macquarie and Camden Haven in the south. The Catholic population of 110,000 people live in 22 parishes, which are served by 34 parish priests and assistant priests.