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Fr Gauci named Bishop of Darwin

National

Pope Francis has appointed Adelaide priest Fr Charles Gauci as the seventh Bishop of Darwin.

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The current Administrator of the Adelaide Cathedral parish will be the first Adelaide Diocesan priest to be ordained a bishop in 45 years.

Fr Gauci was described by Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge as a man who is known for his “deep spirituality and real commitment to evangelisation”.

“Fr Charles has ministered to people from many walks of life – as a pastor in parishes, a chaplain to schools, a spiritual director and retreat leader,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“He will be a great gift to the Church in Darwin with all its challenges and also a good addition to the Bishops Conference because of his long and varied experience as priest and teacher of the faith.”

Fr Gauci was born into a faith-filled family in Malta and arrived in Australia as a 13 year old. He undertook his secondary education with the Marist Brothers at Thebarton and at Findon High School before commencing studies at St Francis Xavier Seminary, Rostrevor. He was ordained for Adelaide in 1977 and has served in parishes across the Archdiocese. He has also held a number of archdiocesan leadership roles, including as chairman of the Council of Priests.

Fr Gauci said he was introduced to the life of the Diocese of Darwin and the faith of the community there when he was invited to lead a retreat for the priests of the Diocese about three years ago.

“I’m full of admiration for the work the priests in the Diocese carry out, often in very isolated areas where there are none of the comforts and conveniences of suburban life,” he said.

Fr Gauci said he hopes to visit the Diocese – which takes in almost all of the Northern Territory – as soon as possible so he can meet the local people and speak with Bishop Eugene Hurley, who has served in Darwin for the past 11 years and as a bishop for almost 20 years.

“Bishop Eugene is a great man; I’m humbled to succeed him. He will help me understand the Diocese, its communities and ministries. With that knowledge and discerning what God is asking of me, I will seek to fulfil the task now entrusted to me,” he said.

“I look forward to continuing to learn from all the people of God as their fellow traveller.”

In announcing Bishop-elect Gauci’s appointment, Pope Francis also accepted Bishop Hurley’s resignation. Bishop Hurley will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese until Bishop-elect Gauci’s ordination, a date for which has not yet been confirmed.

Fr Gauci’s appointment was welcomed by the Apostolic Administrator of the Adelaide Archdiocese, Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ.

Bishop O’Kelly said it was cause for “much rejoicing and thanksgiving” for Fr Gauci’s gifts as a priest and the opportunity he has been given to be a shepherd to the people of the Darwin Diocese, which covers 1.3 million square kilometres.

“The Archdiocese is extremely grateful to Fr Gauci for his pastoral care and leadership in the Southern Deanery where he covered eight centres of worship and five Catholic schools and developed a unique team approach,” Bishop O’Kelly said in a letter to the people of the Adelaide Archdiocese.

“In 2017 Fr Gauci was appointed Administrator of the Adelaide Cathedral Parish where he has continued to demonstrate his strong commitment to evangelising and, in particular, developing the faith of young people through the parish and through his chaplaincy in schools.”

He paid tribute to Bishop Hurley, saying he had served the people of the Northern Territory “graciously and diligently” over the past 11 years and prior to that the Diocese of Port Pirie for nine years.

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