Bishop Anthony Fisher op appointed third Bishop of Parramatta
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has named Most Rev Anthony Fisher op as the third bishop of Parramatta. He succeeds Most Rev Kevin Manning who has been Bishop of Parramatta since 1997 and is retiring.
Bishop Anthony is a Dominican friar and ethicist. He was Coordinator of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. For the past seven years he has been Parish Priest of Watson’s Bay and an auxiliary bishop of Sydney. At 49 Bishop Anthony Fisher is the youngest Catholic bishop in Australia.
“It is a very great privilege to be entrusted with this role of leadership and service in the vibrant young diocese of Parramatta,” Bishop Anthony said. “Western Sydney is one of Australia’s fastest growing areas, with a median age of only 32, many young families and numerous ethnic communities. Parramatta may be one of our youngest dioceses but it is already the fifth most populous in Australia and has many exciting possibilities.”
The Diocese of Parramatta was separated from the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1986 and includes the shires of Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Parramatta and Penrith, and parts of Wollondilly and Liverpool. With a third of the locals identifying as Catholic in the last census (319,215), it is Australia’s most Catholic area. It already has 49 parishes, 76 systemic schools (54 primary and 22 secondary) and 6 congregational schools.
The Parramatta diocese has been described as “contemporary urban Australia in miniature” with parishes as old as St Patrick’s Parramatta (1827) and St Matthew’s Windsor (1832) and others still being established in the new suburbs of Sydney’s West and North-West, such as St Padre Pio’s church Glenmore Park which will be opened next month.
“I don’t come with any agenda apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church,” Bishop Anthony explained. “I want to hear from the priests and people of the diocese, their hopes, gifts and challenges, and learn from them.”
In his role with WYD08, the largest international gathering and largest youth event in Australia’s history, Bishop Anthony found many young people, parishes, schools and families from the Parramatta Diocese were involved. “World Youth Day brought home to me the importance of youth ministry and the major contribution young people can make to our Church today. I will be bringing that experience and energy to my new role,” Bishop Anthony said.
Born in South-West Sydney and educated in several Sydney schools, Bishop Anthony Fisher went on to study History and Law at the University of Sydney before practising in a city law firm. From this time he was also involved in the pro-life movement. In 1985 he entered the Order of Preachers (‘OP’ or ‘Dominicans’) – a religious order dedicated to preaching the Catholic faith in the context of a life of study, prayer and community. He studied theology in Melbourne, was ordained a priest in 1991 and completed a doctorate in bioethics at the University of Oxford in 1995.
“As a priest and religious myself, I honour the role that priests and consecrated women and men have played in the history of Western Sydney. Priests are the backbone of our parish life and religious today contribute to education, welfare, health and aged care, as well as to parish and spiritual life. Naturally, promoting priestly and religious vocations will be a major priority for me,” Bishop Anthony said.
Bishop Anthony’s academic life has included lecturing in several countries and publishing widely in bioethics and moral philosophy. From 1995 to 2000 he lectured at the Australian Catholic University. From 2000 to 2003 he was the foundation Director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne where he is still a Professor. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame Australia and Deputy-Chancellor of the Catholic Institute of Sydney. Until now he has also been Episcopal Vicar for Life and Health and Chairman of the Sydney Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Board.
“I have a passion for preaching, teaching and formation, and so I will be very interested in the distinctive contribution the Catholic Church makes in this regard in the Diocese of Parramatta,” Bishop Anthony said.
Bishop Anthony is Chairman of the NSW Catholic Education Commission and a member of the Australian Bishops’ Commissions for Doctrine and Morals and for the Health and Community Services. He is also a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.
“I want today to pay tribute to Bishop Kevin Manning who has given the diocese first-rate leadership over the past twelve years,” Bishop Anthony said. “It is an honour to follow in the footsteps of this good shepherd.”
The liturgical celebration of Bishop Anthony’s installation will take place at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, at 7:30 pm on Thursday 4 March 2010.