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Double celebration for local Church

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The Catholic Church in South Australia celebrated two significant events last month – the installation of the new Bishop of Port Pirie Diocese and the ordination to priesthood of Pat Lopresti.

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Bishop Karol is believed to be the first Polish bishop to be appointed to an Australian diocese, replacing Australia’s first Jesuit bishop Greg O’Kelly.

Fr Lopresti, 60, is the Adelaide Archdiocese’s newest priest after responding to the call to priesthood later in life.

A Blackfriars Priory School old scholar and former lawyer with the Adelaide Crown Solicitor’s Office, Fr Lopresti was living and working in Sydney when he began to discern a vocation in the priesthood. He was well into his fifties when he started his studies at Pope St John XXIII National Seminary in Boston in 2016.

Ordained to the diaconate in April last year, Fr Lopresti had a long wait to becoming a priest due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presiding at the ordination in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Archbishop Patrick O’Regan gave thanks for the “great generosity of God” and urged Fr Lopresti to “keep one foot in the church and one foot in the main street”.

“Get your boots dirty because the life of service is one in which we draw close to those whom we serve, not in some unattainable perfect world but in this imperfect world, the one upon which God looks with love,” Archbishop O’Regan said.

Bishop Karol used his first homily as shepherd of the vast Port Pirie Diocese to speak of “building an environment of security and trust, support and love, kindness and goodness so that all of us, young and old, should be proud of our faith and beliefs”.

“My existence as bishop has its only sense and meaning if I am connected to the people,” he told the congregation in St Mark’s Cathedral.

“I entrust myself to your prayers and offer my prayers as well.

“We are together building the local Church known as the Diocese of Port Pirie.”

Representatives from the four corners of the diocese – which is three times the size of Bishop Karol’s homeland of Poland – brought soil from their region and poured it into a glass vessel to symbolise the territory over which he will have pastoral leadership.

Bishop Karol arrived in Port Pirie from Poland in October (after serving quarantine requirements), but previously spent 21 years as a missionary priest in Western Australia. He returned to Poland in 2018 after being elected vice-provincial of the Polish province of the Society of the Divine Saviour.

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