Bishop Emeritus Peter Ingham has delivered a humourous and heartfelt speech to over 500 guests from around the Diocese - including many from the Catholic Education community - gathered to celebrate and honour him at a Farewell Dinner at the Campbelltown Catholic Club.
“Tonight, I am here to thank you all for the terrific support and affirmation of my style of ministry. I have been absolutely blown away,” Bishop Peter said, “I think I have done nothing extraordinary except to keep being there.”
“My motivation [as a bishop] came from a phrase in the New Testament in the Acts of the Apostles—a phrase that jumped out at me from the reading at Mass not long before I was nominated a bishop—‘They [Paul and Barnabas] put fresh heart into the disciples encouraging them to persevere in the faith’ (Acts 14:22).
“It is my fervent prayer that despite my own shortcomings, I have, by God’s grace, put some fresh heart into people and encouraged them to hang in there as Catholic Christians.
With the humility and generosity that people all over the Diocese have come to know Peter Ingham by, he finished his speech by focusing on his successor, the new Bishop of Wollongong, Brian Mascord.
“Bishop Brian, what you see here tonight is a great cross-section of the potential and goodness our Diocese has to offer you,” he said.
“Can I say to you, the people of our Diocese, remember Bishop Brian has just been through a dislocating and painful experience in leaving a community he loved in Maitland-Newcastle and where he was well known and appreciated…Let your new bishop be himself. Each of us is different and we see much further into the future when we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.”
Earlier, Bishop Peter was there to personally greet every single guest as they walked the red carpet into The Cube for a great evening hosted by master of ceremonies, Australian comedian, Vince Sorrenti - a fitting choice for a Bishop who loves a good joke or two!
Between laughs, the night featured a beautiful three course meal prepared by celebrated Australian chef, Mr Peter Sheppard, and several highly talented students from Mount Carmel Catholic College, Varroville who provided music throughout the event.
The entertainment was highlighted by acclaimed former Varroville student, Miss Chantelle Santos, performing a special solo rendition of Ave Maria and a wonderful set performed by renowned Australian opera singer and local parishioner from Sydney, Mr Mark Vincent, and his band.
Former diocesan chancellor, Sr Moya Hanlen FDNSC and current chair of the Diocesan Finance Council, Mr Kieran Biddle also delivered touching tributes to the wonderful contribution Peter Ingham has made as the Bishop of Wollongong for the past 16 ½ years.
A special moment of the evening was a surprise slideshow presentation of over 100 photos from Bishop Peter’s life.
“There was an atmosphere of joy and celebration in spite of it being a farewell," said Sr Maria Casey RSJ, President of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand.
"What happened there at The Cube was a wonderful example of what it is to be Church—a community, faith-filled, joyous, supportive, able to work and celebrate together."
The Farewell Dinner Programme can be viewed here.