Episcopal Ordination of Most Reverend Mark Benedict Coleridge

Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne,
on Wednesday, 19th June, 2002, at 7.30pm


My dear Friends,

Together with his mother, Marjorie, and his three brothers and sister, I welcome you to the Ordination of Mark Benedict Coleridge as a Bishop and successor of the Apostles in the Church, which Jesus Christ founded.

His call comes from Christ through the Church and his presence in our parish and communities is a reminder of our union with our brothers and sisters.

As the twelfth Auxiliary Bishop in our great Archdiocese, he will be one with Bishop Joe O'Connell, Bishop Hilton Deakin (who is with us in spirit, while attending a meeting of Caritas Internationalis in Rome), and myself, in the service which we, as members of the worldwide episcopal college, render to you, the people of God.

I recognise with esteem the participation this evening of Cardinals Edward Clancy and Edward Cassidy, Archbishop Francesco Canalini - the Holy Father's personal representative in Australia, Archbishop Frank Carroll - President of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference, my predecessors - Archbishops Frank Little and George Pell, the Bishops of Australia and priests and lay friends from Australia and around the world.

This is a moment of hope for our Archdiocese as we begin a new millennium and consider the service each one of us renders for God and his Church. Let us call to mind our sins.


My dear Brothers and Sisters,

This evening's Mass is a moment filled with joy for the Church and for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Because Jesus sent the apostles, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel and gather every people into a single flock to be guided and governed in the way of holiness, the bishop is above all witness to the supreme hope which comes from him.

Ordination as a bishop means that a person is consecrated not just for one diocese, but for the salvation of the whole world.

The presence of the bishop in our parish and communities therefore is a reminder of what the Catholic Church is; a body of brothers and sisters throughout the world united by common faith in Jesus Christ and led in worship, teaching and service by the bishops as successors of the apostles in union with the See of Peter. This is why Jesus in sending forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations assured them of his constant presence and chose the bishop as the first person to give people the reason for hope at the beginning of a new millennium.

By ordination he takes on a new reality as the Good Shepherd gifted with a contemplative outlook, facing the world's realities from the vantagepoint of shepherd and of communion with the universal Church as well as with the Church of Melbourne.

As a good shepherd Bishop Mark is called to face the anxieties and expectations of today's world, to be a great teacher announcing the word of truth and life, and to foster activity which goes to the heart of humanity.

As we in the Archdiocese contemplate the face of Christ in response to the Holy Father's invitation in Novo Millennio Ineunte, we bishops are committed to being united to Christ, faithful to his gospel, loved by God, to bring truth and hope to the world.

The hope which is living through the resurrection of Christ, victor over sin and death, encourages the faithful in awareness of the abiding presence of Christ, the Lord of history, the Father of the age to come. The hope given to all bishops is intended to sharpen his missionary spirit, to cause him to wait upon the Lord, to remember as an anchor fixed in God's revelation to persevere in living and witnessing to the life of faith each day.

In a particular way bishops are called to build up the Church through Confirmation and Orders, to teach God's word and to be a focus of unity for God's people.

My brother, Bishop Mark, from the day when I was present at your priestly ordination here on 18th May, 1974, I have known you as a dedicated priest with a love for the word of God. This word has always challenged and nourished you in your pastoral ministry, your studies - first for a Licence and then to be the first Melbourne priest to receive a Doctorate in Sacred Scripture; and also for the work of fostering truth and the love of Scripture in the young men whom you have taught in Catholic Theological College where subsequently you were Master.

I recognise with esteem your service here in Melbourne to my predecessors as media spokesman and of the personal service rendered to the Holy Father in the Secretariat of State for the last five years. Our communion with the See of Peter is particularly strong at this moment as, united with my brother bishops, I confer upon you the Order of Episcopate.

You have chosen as your motto, Sanguis et Aqua. The blood of Christ poured forth on the Cross is made present again in this unbloody sacrifice to remind us that the name Jesus means God saves. Truly you will be an instrument of his saving love and hope to people.

The waters of baptism foreshadowed in the first Reading from the prophet, Ezekiel, by the power of Christ won on the Cross are called to bathe all humanity in the saving grace of the Lord. "This blood which flowed from its source in the secret recesses of the Heart of Jesus, gave the sacraments of the Church power to confer the life of grace, and for those who already live in Christ was a draught of living water welling up to eternal life." (S. Bonaventure, Opusc. 3,29-30)

In accepting the call to the episcopate you commit yourself to the logic of the Cross, which is one of salvation. You will be an instrument of compassion by giving God's people the word of life and you will be a harbinger of the hope which Jesus Christ, the Lord of all history, offers unceasingly to his people and above all in this second year of the new millennium.

With joy I thank you for your readiness to accept this difficult service for love of God and his people and I wish you the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you enter into the mystery of the call to be bishop in the Church of God for the building up of the people of God.


+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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