News from the Diocese


Catholic Diocese of Wollongong serving the people of God in the Illawarra, Macarthur, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands regions of NSW
  • Journey 58 - Autumn 2015 | READ ONLINE NOW!
  • Chrism Mass 2015 | Bishop Peter Ingham's Homily

    My Brother Clergy, Religious Brothers and Sisters, People of the Diocese

    Today’s joyful celebration of the Chrism Mass transports us back to the Last Supper on the first Holy Thursday because to that occasion we trace the origins of the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass and the origins of the Priesthood.  The Chrism Mass is only celebrated once a year, in only one church in the diocese, the cathedral.

    Just as in every other diocese throughout the world, each of us bishops, like Pope Francis, together with our clergy and the people of God from around the diocese, celebrate the Mass of the Chrism.  It is also sometimes referred to as “the great concelebration.”

    This is a unique event in the life of the local church of a diocese, because tonight we clergy renew the promises of our ordination day, to be more closely united with the Lord Jesus, to be faithful stewards in the various ministries we have been given.  But we also pray to be faithful as ministers of Jesus Christ, our High Priest, so that we may lead our people to Jesus, the source of our salvation.

    On this same occasion of the Chrism Mass, the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens which are used for the sacraments are blessed, along with the Oil of Chrism, which is consecrated.  Remember “chrism” is the same word as “Christ.”  Jesus is called Christ because he is the “anointed one” of God.  Through that Oil of Chrism, those who are baptised and confirmed, as well as those ordained bishops or priests, will have that oil put either on their foreheads, their hands or their heads, to show that they are being set apart in a very special way as lay witnesses or to minister to the people of God as the ordained.   We, the ordained, are dedicated so as to bring Christ to you, the people whom we have been sent to serve as ministers of the Word of God and ministers of the Sacraments of Salvation.

    Holy Oils

    You know, the olive tree is the most common tree in Palestine and grows most abundantly in Galilee.  Its oil was widely used: in the preparation of food; as fuel for lamps; for healing and massage; as a cosmetic to make the skin lustrous; and to prepare a body for burial.

    The use of oil in sacred rites was common in the Semitic world of the Old Testament.   Jacob (about 1800 BC) erected a pillar at Bethel where God had appeared to him, and he anointed it to be a sanctuary – the house of God (Genesis 28:10-22.)  When Aaron (about 1250 BC) and his sons were consecrated as priests, they were anointed, as were the Tent of Meeting and the Arc of the Covenant (Exodus 30:22-31.)  Kings were also anointed – Saul, David (about 1000 BC), Solomon – either by priest or prophet (1 Sam 16:12.) The purpose of anointing was to dedicate a person or object as sacred in God’s service.

    In Sacred Scripture we learn the spiritual symbolism of oil.  For instance, Psalm 23:5 says, “You anoint my head with oil,” signifying favour and strength from the Lord; and Psalm 45:8 reads, “You, David, love justice and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings,” signifying the special designation from God and the joy of being his servant.  Moreover, to be “the anointed” of the Lord indicated receiving a special vocation from the Lord and the empowerment with the Holy Spirit to fulfil that vocation.  Jesus, echoing the words of Isaiah, said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore he has anointed me.” (Luke 4:18.)

    St Paul emphasised this point, “Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of your standing in Christ, and has anointed us, marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Holy Spirit, whom we carry in our hearts.” (2 Cor 1:21)  Therefore the symbolism of oil is rich: making us holy; healing us; strengthening us; enriching us; dedicating us; and consecrating us.

    Given this heritage, the early church adopted the use of olive oil for its sacramental rituals. St Hippolytus, in his work called the Apostolic Tradition (AD 215), wrote of an anointing of the candidates immediately before baptism.

    So you and I have been anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of Chrism and some with the Oil of the Sick.  By these anointings, you and I have entered into communion with Jesus Christ; through our baptism we have been adopted into God's family and have received a share in Christ's life.

    So do not ever think this blessed Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick or this consecrated Chrism, is simply ordinary oil and nothing else!

    After the invocation of the Holy Spirit, it is no longer ordinary oil, but the gift of Jesus Christ who, as the eternal Son of God, makes the holy oil the instrument through which you and I receive the Holy Spirit.

    While this sacramental oil visibly anoints our foreheads, our hands, or our head, our souls are made holy or sanctified by the life-giving Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as “the oil of gladness” because the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is the source of our spiritual joy.


    Origins of the Priesthood

    Tonight is also a celebration of the origins of the priesthood, inextricably connected with the Last Supper when Jesus,  our High Priest,  left us a way of recalling and celebrating in a sacrament his saving sacrifice on the Cross and glorious resurrection from the dead,  which is right at the heart of our faith.  We see the beginning of the Christian priesthood in Jesus telling his disciples “Do this in memory of me!”

    Father Donald Cozzens is an American diocesan priest who has written extensively on the changing face of the priesthood in our contemporary world.  He points out what we all know – priests are ageing and our numbers are dwindling. Some question whether there is a place for married men to be ordained; some parents dissuade their sons from giving their life to be priests, so we have fewer seminarians, though we're blessed at the moment with Stephen Varney, Michael Dyer, Victor Vincent and James Arblaster preparing for the priesthood.

    But Father Cozzens says what has buffeted and humbled the priesthood, and our own Royal Commission has evidenced, is the shocking, staggering sexual abuse of children and adolescents by some clergy and Religious and the corresponding lack of understanding of the criminality of the issue or even the cover– up of the abuse by some people in authority in the Church.

    The fallout from all of this has done irreparable damage to the lives of victims and their families, it has deeply wounded the credibility of the Church and humbled the priesthood.  Yet we have to face the truth of our past and work for justice for victims and their families and continue to pray that the healing love of Jesus, expressed particularly through our compassion and care, will bring peace and ease suffering and give victims and their families the strength to experience healing.

    And so the humbling of the priesthood that we are currently experiencing is not a bad thing.  It is a necessary thing.  It is a wakeup call for us to begin to look at the role of the priesthood in our society in a fresh way.

    One of the great contributions of the Second Vatican Council was its emphasis on the Church as the pilgrim people of God, and that all the baptised, clergy and religious included, in terms of spiritual dignity, are equal members of the Church.  Baptism is our common denominator.  Only in a metaphorical sense, then, is the priest a man set apart.  While we are ordained to be the pastoral leaders of a parish community, we are not the only leaders.  Yet our ministry as preacher, as Minister of Word and Sacrament, and as servant/leader remains essential to the health and vibrancy of the Church.  The ordained ministry is essential to the church community.

    But, of course, we priests and bishops are not the only ones anointed by the Holy Spirit with gifts and talents for the good of the Church.  Finding our place alongside the Deacon, the Lay Pastoral Minister, the Consecrated Religious, and the variety of people who minister in our parishes, has in fact been an ongoing challenge for us priests and bishops of the Church since the Vatican Council 50 years ago.

    One of my jobs in the Bishops’ Conference is being the liaison Bishop to the Council for Australian Catholic Women.  In that regard Father Cozzens says engaging and relating to educated, thinking, believing Catholic women can be a daunting challenge for some clergy.  Some of us don't quite know how to engage pastorally with the articulate, well-read women of our parishes, while we would all admit that a church that doesn't hear God speaking through the voice of women remains skewed and limited. 

    What our own Bishops said in their Social Justice Statement of 2000, Pope Francis has further emphasised in his letter “The Joy of the Gospel.” He said “I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection.   But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church.  (Evangelii  Gaudium paragraphs 104-105) The Pope also spoke about the role women should play in decision-making in different areas of the Church’s life.

    Father Cozzens says we priests sense that the power differential between lay people and clergy has changed.  Many Catholics have come to imagine God differently in the Church since the Second Vatican Council. Many no longer imagine a wrathful God.  We have known for some time now what recent surveys have made clear:  more than three quarters of Catholics do not celebrate Sunday Mass every week.  The majority of the faithful who fall into this category tend just to see their local priest more like a chaplain – someone on the margins of their lives whom they can call on for baptisms, weddings, and funerals.   It is not this way in many of our healthy, vibrant parishes, but that mindset is there for a large number of Catholics.

    Yet without a fundamental sense of the sacred, a sense of the hidden presence of God, Catholicism loses its oomph.  That's why the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, are central to the life of faith.  If we are not in touch with Mass on a regular basis, and if we rarely pray or go to Reconciliation, our faith will weaken.

    The presence of the Holy Spirit, the grace-filled spontaneous touch of the sacred, is there in the Word of God and in the sacramental life of the Church.  Yet, reflective Catholics also discover the presence of God in their homes through their marriage, in the wonder of their children, in the goodness of people who share our workplaces, our shopping malls, in our cities and suburbs, and also in the silence of the bush or the roar of the ocean. 

    We experience the sacred in our cathedrals and churches and monasteries and retreat houses, as well as in hospitals and nursing homes and in caring for the poor and needy, through CatholicCare – our Catholic welfare agency, and through the St Vincent de Paul Society.  School students speak about finding a sense of the sacred on their service trips with the Vinnies Van to feed the homeless, or through Project Compassion or Catholic Mission.  Still, I suspect a sense of the sacred, a sense of God’s presence, remains more elusive in technology driven and financially obsessed countries like our own.

    Having by God’s grace, a sense of the holy, we priests and bishops should, by our presence, foster a sense of the sacred, perhaps as much by the integrity of our lives as by our preaching and ministry. We priests and bishops would hope to prompt people to wonder at the hidden presence of the divine.  We all know priests who do this, but we must never mask our humanity behind the persona of the priest and so never seem to be quite real.

    My Brother Priests, everything I have just said about the humbling of the Priesthood and how our exercise of the ministry is constantly facing new challenges and perceptions in society about the value of our role, could appear unsettling and critical.  Please do not take it that way.  I and everyone else here tonight know and appreciate your dedication to your ministry; your commitment to your flock as good shepherds; and your deep love of Jesus Christ our High Priest – and I thank you for that and for your collaborative ministry.

    We have to embrace these new challenges with outstretched arms and rediscover the original spark that lit the fire that led us to the priesthood and, as Pope Francis says, become missionaries for Jesus Christ.

  • Catholic Holy Week Ceremonies and Reconciliation Times 2015
  • Position Vacant | General Assistant - Hospitality


    The Office of the Bishop is seeking to fill the position of General Assistant – Hospitality.

    The position is full time, based in Wollongong and is planned to commence in April 2015 or by negotiation. The successful applicant will undertake general duties for the Office of the Bishop, particularly with hospitality services for the Conference Centre and offices, relief for reception as required and other tasks as directed.

    Click here to download the Position Description.

    Your application should include a resume specifying residency or work visa status and a letter addressed to the Diocesan Executive Officer outlining your commitment to the ethos and values of the Catholic Church. Your letter should also address how you meet the skills, experience & qualification requirements of the position as outlined in the Position Description. 

    Send your letter and resume to the Executive Assistant to the Diocesan Executive Officer, Mary Hiscox at mary [DOT] hiscox [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au by close of business, Friday 20 March 2015.

    Alternatively it may be posted to:

    Mary Hiscox
    PO Box 1239
    Wollongong NSW 2500

    Enquiries should be directed to Mary on (02) 4222 2468.

  • St Teresa's Fifth Centenary Concert at Varroville | 28 March

    On 28 March 2015, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Church Varroville are celebrating St Teresa's Fifth Centenary through a range of events on this day of her birth.  The celebrations begin with a Mass at 10.00 with Bishop Peter Ingham, followed by a sausage sizzle lunch at 12.00 pm.  Soon after at 2.00 pm, the concert begins and later on at 7.00 pm there will be dinner dance. You are all invited to come along to any event or all. 

    The concert features many artists of high standing, taking you on a musical pilgrimage through Lent, reflecting and representing the life and work of  St Teresa of Jesus.  For more information see www. and or contact Parish Office on 9693 73737 or nellalucestudio [AT] hotmail [DOT] com

    Entry is by donation to raise funds for student's pilgrimage to Ávila and Project Compassion.

  • “Walking the Camino” | An audio-visual presentation by Peter Kearney

    WALKING THE CAMINO. Friday March 20th., 7.00pm, Gwynneville. St. Brigid’s Hall, 2 Vickery Street. Audio-visual presentation by Peter Kearney about the Camino de Santiago, an 800km pilgrimage walk through northern Spain. Peter walked this path in 2012. Photos & music on large screen television with live commentary. Suggested donation $10/$8 concession at door. Limited seating - registration essential via email to Peter: camino [AT] peterkearneysongs [DOT] com [DOT] au   Specify venue location ‘Gwynneville’ and number of seats needed. "Easily the best account of the Camino I have seen. Peter’s commentary and selection of music accompany a brilliant array of photos.”  (John Dawson)

    Click below to download poster:

  • Appin Massacre Memorial Ceremony | 19 April 2015

    Everyone invited. Free event.



  • Join Bishop Peter in serving Christ’s Mission | Diocesan Assembly | Sat 7 March


    You are Invited to:

    •          Gather with Bishop Peter Ingham and other people from our region.
    •          Discover ways you can be supported in parish, school and regional initiatives
    •          Contribute your ideas and passion for serving Christ with a focus on supporting family life
    •          Engage in a special session for young people or other area of specific interest
    •          Share in morning tea and lunch, free of charge.

    Our Diocesan Assembly begins 8.30am with special breakfast session for young people.

    The young people are joined at 10.00am by other participants.

    Morning tea 11.30am
    Lunch 1.00pm
    Close 1.30pm

    Saturday 7 March 2015
    St Mary Star of the Sea College Hall Wollongong (Harbour Street Wollongong)
    All welcome, free of charge. 

    Registration is essential:

    Need help? Contact Helen Bennett on helen [DOT] bennett [AT] dow [DOT] org [DOT] au or 4222 2403.

  • Bishop Peter Ingham's Lenten Message 2015



    My Sisters and Brothers in Christ

    So many of us are conscious of our weight and how to win the battle of the bulge. This is quite ironic when a large proportion of the world goes to bed hungry. For physical health, some favour a five-a-day fruit and vegetable diet which is self-explanatory. Some practitioners promote a five-a-day mental health program – being physically active, connecting with others socially, taking time to be aware of our surroundings, learning something new and giving time and service to our neighbours and to the community.

    In today’s Gospel we become aware of Jesus healing the leper and restoring him to the community, and its connection to Jesus’ healing us of the leprosy of sin and ignorance by dying on the Cross and rising again. Could we come

    up with a similar five-a-day routine for our spiritual health?

    Now is an appropriate time to try and do this, because this week we enter the Season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Fr Bill Bausch in his book “The Story Revealed” itemises his five-a-day spiritual routine designed to bring us closer to God, just as a physical and mental health routine can bring us closer to good health.

    His five-a-day spiritual workout includes: to pray, to read the Word of God; time for silence and contemplation; sharing with others; and living more simply so that others may simply live.

    To do this with a supportive group of like-minded people helps a lot. If we are serious about our spiritual progress, we can be helped by connecting with others from time-to-time for mutual support. We do this quite naturally for physical exercise with others; we also join book reading clubs to encourage us to read: so why not, for example, join a Lenten group this year in your parish undertaking our Lenten Program “Arise.” In doing the program you will encounter prayer, reading the Word of God, time for silence and contemplation and sharing with others. It can be a great spiritual workout.

    You may also like to go on a day or weekend retreat together. Talk about a great opportunity for spiritual replenishment! And we are so blessed in our Diocese with an abundance of retreat centres that most Dioceses in Australia would only dream of. You can do that at St Mary’s Towers Retreat Centre Douglas Park; Jamberoo Abbey; the Hermitage Mittagong; Mount Carmel Retreat Centre Varroville; Hartzer Park Retreat Centre Bowral; or at one of the beautiful natural venues on the coast or in the mountains.

    If you can get to daily Mass one or two days a week, that’s a great avenue of prayer, of listening to the Word of God and receiving the graces of the Eucharist together as a community. For those busy workers who cannot make a weekday Mass why not just text, email or Facebook each other, encouraging one another by sharing a prayer, favourite quote or scripture passage.

    While connecting with others like this is a great spiritual exercise, never forget the importance of silence. So, after you have shared with each other, why not turn off the mobile phone or TV or iPad for a time of silence and prayer or reading the Scriptures or a spiritual book to lift our minds and hearts to God.

    Think of all those times we spend waiting at traffic lights or in the checkout queue. These can be moments to turn our thoughts and prayers to God. Quite often, I will turn off my radio in the car when I am driving to spend some time in conversation with God. The conversation can be about trivial matters like, such as what I am doing that day, what I need help with, or how I can improve on what I did yesterday. But God loves that kind of real conversation and close relationship. I also find that the Rosary and the Angelus are good travelling companions.

    And in doing this we will begin to fulfil the final element of our spiritual routine, that is, living more simply, as it removes us from unnecessary distractions such as the media’s obsessive worship of celebrities and we start to recognise the Spirit of God in people who are sick, suffering or depressed fellow travellers on our journey and want to bring some hope into their lives. Then we cannot fail to value the dignity of every person no matter what they look like, if we have taken the time to fast from the commercials hawking the perfect body and confusing our needs with our greeds.

    Before we admit our own sins and weaknesses to Jesus Christ, we have to first meet him in prayer and silence and learn that he loves us more than we could ever imagine and that he accepts us warts and all.

    All of this requires a holy discipline, a mindset that sees as Jesus sees; a spiritual routine that helps us overcome our selfishness and greed, to recognise the lies we tell ourselves and others, to be aware of our anger and rage, our indecent thoughts and desires and our insensitivity to the needs of others.

    Can I live the simple life that will free me up to be spiritually alive to Jesus, who saved and redeemed me by dying on the Cross? Can I be extra sensitive to the needs of others and more compassionate and forgiving? Can I make more space in my life for goodness and sharing?

    Our annual Project Compassion appeal is but one way to share what we have from the sacrifices we make to enable people in developing nations to help themselves. The theme this year is “Food for Life.” Food is essential for all life, yet many of the world’s poorest people do not have food security. That means they live from day-to-day, uncertain of how to afford or how to access their next meal. The Project Compassion appeal aims to help the world’s poorest people establish sustainable food, walking with them as they free themselves from the burden of food insecurity and helping them develop new and improved income streams for a better future.

    Just as we are keen to promote our physical health, this five-a-day spiritual routine of prayer, holy reading, silence, sharing with others and living more simply can promote our spiritual health by giving us insight into the value of our faith to our lives, providing a spiritual context for living and finding peace of mind and heart.

    May this Lent help you and me grow spiritually fit so we can reflect something of God’s presence and the light of Christ in our broken world.


    Have a blessed Lent and Easter.


    Most Rev Peter W Ingham DD
    Bishop of Wollongong


  • Light to the Nations - Easter Youth Pilgrimage

    Looking for something exciting to do over Easter in the Diocese? How about taking part in a youth pilgrimage with 1,000 other young Catholics. Light to the Nations 2015 offers you the chance to camp under the stars and celebrate the Easter liturgies with contemporary music, prayer, incredible drama (including the stations of the cross), adoration and an opportunity to make friends who are also into their faith.

    For more info, check out, or like us on Facebook (

    See you at Easter!