Melbourne News

Bishop-elect Mark Edwards takes his next step

Monday 15 December 2014
By Edwina Hall, Kairos Catholic Journal
 
BISHOP-elect Fr Mark Edwards OMI said that he was both humbled and enthusiastic about becoming Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne for the Eastern Region.

The 55-year-old Oblate priest was appointed Auxiliary Bishop by Pope Francis on Friday 7 November and will be ordained on Wednesday 17 December.

‘The people of God have been very good to me over the years and I am sure the people in the Eastern Region will be also. I will get to make a lot of friends. I have 70 parishes to look after there, so to all those future friends I don’t know yet, I look forward to catching up with them,’ Fr Edwards said.

‘I would love to support and encourage the priests in the Eastern Region to whatever extent I can, to thank them for the work that they are doing, to let them know that they are loved and not out there on their own.

‘I would hope that as much as I can I will bring a connection with Jesus and with what holiness I have to help people feel connected to Jesus.’

Fr Edwards said he hoped his life as both a teacher and an Oblate would help him in this role to ‘speak in a way that young people can understand’ and to have an ear and a heart for formation.

‘I’ve worked in our seminary [in Brisbane] for 12 years, so formation has been helping people grow up to be not only good men but men of faith—resilient, courageous, faith-filled—things that I hope I can bring with me.’

 

One of four children, Fr Edwards was born in Balikpapan, Indonesia, on 14 June 1959.

His father grew up in Whyalla, South Australia, and after graduating from Adelaide University, worked for Shell International in Holland.

‘My father fell in love with a Dutch girl over there, and as part of their moving we ended up in Indonesia and lived out in the wilds in a tiny village,’ Fr Edwards said. ‘I was born in Balikpapan, where the nearest hospital was. Myself and my brother were born there. Dad then had a choice to become an Indonesian citizen or to move back to Australia.’

Eventually settling in Melbourne, Fr Edwards’ father asked Shell to allow him and his family to remain settled in Melbourne, ‘which meant no more promotions for him either, which was very kind of dad’, Fr Edwards explained.

Fr Edwards was educated at Mazenod College, Mulgrave, where he spent six years and where he ‘met the Oblates’.

At the completion of his final year at school, he attended Monash University in Clayton for three years, completing his Bachelor degree in Science.

Entering the Novitiate of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Mulgrave, in 1980, he studied at Catholic Theological College, making his final religious profession on 17 February 1984, and was ordained a priest on 16 August 1986.

‘I joined the Oblates to be a missionary but my first appointment was at Mazenod College. So, having lived all around the world, I’ve lived a lot in Mulgrave!

‘Mum was a Catholic and Catholics from Holland in those days were very loyal to the Church. Dad is an Anglican and a practising Anglican who used to go to church every Sunday, and that was really important to me.

‘Mum’s faithfulness and love of the Church and Dad’s love of Jesus and his preparedness to live that out publicly both strongly helped me in my formation.

‘A number of Oblates taught me at Mazenod College; they were very friendly with us—I regarded them as friends and I saw how they lived. I remember when I was in grade five I said to God, “if this works out—something that must have been important to me at the time—I will become a priest.”

‘I looked at the Oblates and the work they were doing; I saw how they lived and the community they were in and I thought I would love to be a part of that community and a part of that lifestyle. I’ve been a part of this community since 1980 and I’ve never been disappointed.’

Fr Edwards has since worked as a teacher, novice master and lecturer in Melbourne. Between 2001 and 2012 Fr Edwards served as counsellor of the Australian Province of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In 2010 he became rector of Iona College in Brisbane, which he is ‘very sad to be leaving’.

When things become overwhelming, Fr Edwards said he took heed of advice from former Oblates vicar general and recently retired Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George OMI: ‘You don’t have to be the priest your mother wants you to be or your parish priest wants you to be. You only have to be the priest that Jesus wants you to be.’

‘In some ways that’s frightening because that’s a very high standard. But in other ways it’s very freeing because you only have to please one person,’ Fr Edwards said.

‘Jesus always seems to have me ready for the next step when I get there.’

Picture courtesy of Iona College
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