Speaking following Saturday evening’s announcement, Mgr Bennet said it was “an honour” to follow Archbishop Patrick O’Regan, whom Pope Francis recently appointed from Sale to Adelaide, paying special tribute to his predecessor’s leadership in Sale Diocese in education and in preparing for the Plenary Council.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Mgr Bennet completed his secondary education at Braemar College in Woodend, northwest of Melbourne. After working in banking for several years he entered Corpus Christi College in 1986 and was ordained priest in 1992.
Following a number of parish appointments, Mgr Bennet undertook postgraduate study, gaining a Master of Science in pastoral counselling from Loyola College in Baltimore and a licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Angelicum University in Rome.
Mgr Bennet has held several leadership positions within the Archdiocese of Melbourne, including as director of Ministry to Priests and later as inaugural director of the Office for Evangelisation. After additional parish ministry, he served as vicar general from 2012 to 2019.
Returning to parish ministry just four months ago as parish priest in West Brunswick, Mgr Bennet will now oversee a diocese that stretches from Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, through Gippsland and to the New South Wales border.
Mgr Bennet said he recognised the “enormous responsibility and privilege to be asked to undertake this appointment”.
“It is a responsibility which cannot be exercised in isolation, but in close cooperation with the clergy, the faithful and those in diocesan leadership,” he said.
“I am looking forward to being among and working with the clergy and the faithful of the Diocese of Sale. I know that I come to Sale as a stranger, but I pray that we shall grow together as brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
Mgr Bennet noted that many people in Sale suffered – and some continue to suffer – as a result of the recent bushfires.
“The diocese has responded with great care, compassion and charity to those who lived through such a traumatic experience and began to reorient their lives. These efforts have my full support,” he said.
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said after some delays in recent appointments, the prompt appointment of a new Bishop of Sale was very welcome.
“It’s all the more gratifying that the man chosen is Mgr Greg Bennet, whose personal qualities and range of experience in Melbourne and elsewhere will stand him in good stead for what awaits him in Gippsland,” he said.
“Mgr Bennet will be a blessing not only to his new diocese but also to the Bishops Conference at a time when the Church in Australia is looking to the Plenary Council and beyond.”
A date for Mgr Bennet’s episcopal ordination is not yet known.