Welcome to Auxiliary Bishop Tony Ireland of the Southern Region who celebrates our Confirmation Masses this week. Bishop Anthony (Tony) Ireland was born in Melbourne. In his 34 years as a priest for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Bishop Tony has served in various academic and leadership roles, but at the heart of his ministry lies his desire to invite people to know and love the person of Jesus Christ. He served in the parishes of Grovedale and Torquay, Mentone, Sandringham, Langwarrin and Frankston. For the last 12 years he has been parish priest of St Gregory the Great in Doncaster.
During his priesthood, he undertook academic studies in Italy, receiving higher degrees in Moral and Spiritual Theology, as well as a doctorate. He has lectured in Moral Theology at Catholic Theological College in East Melbourne and was Head of the Department of Moral and Practical Theology for eight years. He has been a tutor at Corpus Christi Seminary College in Carlton, was appointed its Dean of Studies and was also Rector for a number of years. The academic [part] has been a large part of my life as a priest—the academic formation of future priests, religious, and lay people for leadership within the church,’ he reflected. Through it all, it’s also been about prayer and life with the people. Most of my ministry has been spent living in parishes, being with people and at the pastoral service of the people. Prayer and life with the people have always been an emphasis of my ministry. ‘And for me, the thing that is really important is being with people at the right moment, for the right moment, in the right moment. It could be with someone who is vulnerable on their deathbed, or someone who is joyful about the announcement of an engagement, or the celebration of their marriage. It’s about being with the people in those moments.’
Recognising that the Church faces many challenges, and inspired by his own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Bishop Tony said he intends to be a bearer of hope ‘in this moment’. ‘We’re in the wilderness and we’re not alone. God meets us in the wilderness. The wilderness is a place of promise and that gives us hope.’
He hopes to help the Church be a ‘vehicle’ for introducing and reintroducing the person of Jesus Christ to others. ‘The Church is the vehicle for the proclamation of the kingdom of God and the person of Jesus Christ, and for introducing people to the love, mercy and healing of Jesus Christ. Bishop Tony hopes to be a living witness to the words he has chosen for his episcopal motto “Confirm, Strengthen, Support” (1 Peter 5:10)
Though most of the parishioners may not see him for these Masses, we hope to welcome him to celebrate a weekend Mass soon. Please welcome Bishop Tony in our midst.