Friday 7 January 2011
Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of the sixth Bishop of Sandhurst, Bishop Joseph Angelo Grech, at Bendigo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday 6 January at 1pm. Bishop Grech died after a short illness on 28 December, 2010.
The funeral mass was celebrated by Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney. Cardinal Pell, as Archbishop of Melbourne, consecrated Bishop Joe as an Auxiliary Bishop at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1999 and then just over a year later installed him to the Diocese of Sandhurst.
To read tributes to Bishop Grech click here
To view Bishop Joe Grech's Funeral Vigil in Bendigo Cathedral on 5 January 2011 click here
Migrant communities, members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and hundreds of young people joined Australian Bishops, priests and religious of the Diocese of Sandhurst in paying their respects at the funeral.
Bishop Joe was much loved by all who knew him. He was a man who enthusiastically proclaimed his faith and love for Jesus Christ in a wide range of settings – from his rural diocese in Victoria preaching to thousands of young people from around the world at World Youth Days.
Bishop Joe was the Bishops’ delegate for Youth and Young Adults and for Migrants and Refugees, and he served in these roles with joy and a deep compassion. He had a particular space in his heart for migrants and refugees and advocated passionately on their behalf, matching words with pastoral action, through his involvement in the establishment of services in remote detention centres.
Just a few short weeks ago, Bishop Joe spoke out in a media statement for those asylum seekers who drowned just off Christmas Island.
In a touching tribute to Bishop Joe, Fr Maurizio Pettena CS, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office said:
“We take our only comfort knowing that he is meeting Jesus Christ whom he loved so much, and indeed, we believe he will meet with those 50 asylum seekers on whose behalf he so compassionately advocated”, he said.
Bishop Grech died at the age of 62 after taking ill on 22 December with a recurrence of a blood disorder. His condition deteriorated on Christmas Day, and he died peacefully in St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne with Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Fr Maurizio Pettena CS at his side.
Maltese-born Bishop Joseph Angelo Grech was born in 1948 and ordained to the priesthood in 1974. He was installed as the sixth Bishop of Sandhurst on 27 April 2001.
President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Philip Wilson paid tribute to Bishop Joe as an exceptional pastor.
"My brother Bishops and I are deeply saddened by the death of Bishop Joe Grech. Bishop Joe has been a wonderful member of the Episcopal Conference. He has made a tremendous contribution to the Church in Australia because of his deep faith and spirituality, which has been shown especially in the zeal with which he dealt with issues of migrants and refugees and his outreach to young people. He has also shown a wonderful support and commitment to Charismatic prayer groups in this country", he said.
Bishop Joe’s commitment to the people of the Diocese of Sandhurst was that of a man with a deep love for humanity and a great enthusiasm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bishop Joe is quoted as saying: "I love Jesus Christ and want everyone to have the same opportunities to know and love him as I do".
Young people around Australia will feel particularly keenly the loss of Bishop Joe whose enthusiastic manner, unique and charismatic style of preaching and gentle pastoral sensibility helped many young people encounter the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Eternal rest grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
At a meeting of the Diocesan Consultors on Wednesday 30 December, Monsignor Frank Marriott the Administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral was appointed the Administrator of the Diocese until a new Bishop is appointed.
For further information contact the Diocesan Chancery (03) 5441 2544. Also see www.sandhurst.catholic.org.au