02 January 2017, The Tablet

First Chinese-Australian bishop will be a 'great enrichment to the Church'

The Archbishop of Sydney said the appointment marked the growing strength of Chinese Catholics in Australia

Australia is to receive its first bishop of Chinese descent, after the Regional Vicar of the Discalced Carmelite Friars in Sydney, Fr Gregory Homeming, was appointed Bishop of the northern New South Wales diocese of Lismore.

A former lawyer, he is to be consecrated and installed as bishop on 22 February.

He succeeds Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, a former Anglican who worked for several years in the Film Unit of BBC Television before commencing studies for the Anglican ministry at the Theological College of the Society of the Sacred Mission at Kelham, Nottinghamshire.

Bishop Jarrett, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1965 and ordained a Catholic priest five years later, has led the Church in Lismore for 15 years. He celebrated his 79th birthday last month.

Bishop-elect Homeming said he was humbled by news of his appointment. "I knew that I had to say yes after the past 31 years as a Friar," he said. "There is a lot that I have to learn. I hope that the people and the priests of the Diocese of Lismore will teach me how to be their bishop."

Born in Sydney on 30 May 1958, Bishop-elect Homeming completed his primary education in rural Victoria and his secondary schooling in Sydney. He took degrees in Economics and Law at Sydney University and worked as a lawyer from 1981-85, when he joined the Discalced Carmelites, making his first profession in 1987. Ordained on 20 July 1991, he has served as Major Superior, Novice Master, Prior and Retreat Director for his order.

The bishop-elect lists cooking Chinese meals for the friars among his interests.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, his future Metropolitan, welcomed the appointment, saying: "As the first Chinese-Australian bishop, his appointment signals the growing strength of Chinese Catholics in Australia, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the Church in this country."

The appointment adds another religious to the ranks of Australia's bishops: seven of Australia's 28 territorial archdioceses and dioceses will now be led by members of religious congregations.

The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart, said the new bishop's gifts "will be a great enrichment to the Church in Australia".

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