Thousands of mourners are expected to descend upon Bendigo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday 6 January at 1pm to farewell Bishop Joseph Angelo Grech who died after a short illness on 28 December, 2010.
The funeral mass will be celebrated by Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney. Cardinal Pell as Archbishop of Melbourne consecrated Bishop Joe as an Auxiliary Bishop at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1999 and then just over a year later installed him to the Diocese of Sandhurst.
Migrant communities, members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and hundreds of young people are expected to be among those paying their respects. Thirty Australian Bishops have indicated their intention to be present. The priests and religious of the Diocese of Sandhurst will be present.
Bishop Joe was much loved by all who knew him. He was a man who enthusiastically proclaimed his faith and love for Jesus Christ in a wide range of settings – from his rural diocese in Victoria preaching to thousands of young people from around the world at World Youth Days. He had a particular space in his heart for migrants and refugees and advocated passionately on their behalf.
Just a few short weeks ago, Bishop Joe spoke out in a media statement for those asylum seekers who drowned just off Christmas Island.
In a touching tribute to Bishop Joe, Fr Maurizio Pettena CS, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office said:
“We take our only comfort knowing that he is meeting Jesus Christ whom he loved so much, and indeed, we believe he will meet with those 50 asylum seekers on whose behalf he so compassionately advocated”, he said.
The streets surrounding the Cathedral will be blocked off on the day of his funeral. Information and direction for parking will be available as you enter Wattle Street. People are advised to arrive early to ensure they can park and enter the Cathedral with adequate time.