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Former Boat Person Installed as Fourth Bishop of Parramatta

Last edited 16th June 2016

Former Boat Person Installed as Fourth Bishop of Parramatta

The new Bishop of Parramatta and former boat person, Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM ConV, acknowledged the "politically charged issues" of asylum seekers and youth radicalisation and vowed to be a bridge builder between communities, at his installation Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral last night.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, presided over the installation of Bishop Long as the fourth bishop of Parramatta.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Australian archbishops and bishops, and local and visiting priests concelebrated the Mass.

In his homily, Bishop Long said, "I am about to be cast into the deep interior of Western Sydney all the way to the beautiful Blue Mountains and the fertile plains of the Hawksbury River."

One of the fastest growing areas in Australia, the diocese is home to 330,000 Catholics out of a local population of more than 1 million people.

"After 19 months without a bishop, you have been given one in the person of a Vietnamese Australian and a former boat person," Bishop Long said. "Perhaps, you can add my appointment to the list of surprises that Pope Francis has done.

"Here in Sydney’s West, I am told, asylum seekers and youth radicalisation are politically charged issues. As a former boat person, I have a certain kinship to those who are alienated and marginalised. As your bishop, I am committed to be a bridge builder."

Bishop Long acknowledged the failures of the Church, including the sexual abuse crisis.

"What we are witnessing as the people of faith is the flood of secularisation that has washed away much of the church we’ve known and loved. We have been battered and bruised.

"We have to admit with the greatest humility that we have not lived up to that fundamental ethos of justice, mercy, care for those who have been hurt by our own actions and inactions.

"And so in the eyes of many, whatever aura of respectability we've got left has evaporated with the sexual abuse crisis. The Royal Commission has been a lightning rod, an uncomfortable spotlight, but hopefully a catalyst for transformation."

The bishop added, "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. I am committed to make the church in Parramatta the house for all peoples, a church where there is less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity."

The president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart said, "Bishop Long has used his considerable gifts to reach out to many people in Melbourne, he is a fitting leader of Australia's biggest non-metropolitan diocese in Parramatta.

"Bishop Long brings to Parramatta a wide knowledge of people and a deep compassion for them. He has endeared himself to so many by his genuine interest in people's spiritual needs, he will be a very effective pastor in Parramatta."

Article published in the Catholic Weekly (AU)

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