I will always be deeply grateful to Archbishop Wilson for the opportunities he has given me, and the trust he placed in me, when he made me a chancellor in the Archdiocese. I speak today from both my personal and professional perspective and I speak only as myself, as I share my deep affection and gratitude for Archbishop Philip Wilson.
I fully acknowledge the suffering of the victims of abuse for theirs is a life-long suffering, caused by a great evil, not only in Australia but in the Universal Church. I hold the victims in prayer. I also acknowledge the suffering of Archbishop Philip Wilson over the past four years, and I also hold him in prayer. For me, this is a balance of tension that is possible only through prayer.
For me, some of my memories of Archbishop Wilson are about his vision for child protection, the work he did in Wollongong, and positive changes he instigated with the establishment in our Archdiocese of the Child Protection Unit, the Child Protection Council, and the current policies, leading to the new Archdiocesan Commitment Statement on Safeguarding Children and Young People.
I also acknowledge the vision both Archbishop Wilson and Monsignor David Cappo brought to life with the Nazareth Catholic School and Community which is flourishing to this day.
I acknowledge Archbishop’s mighty intellect, his deep spirituality and attention to prayer. He always manifested this in a quiet and pastoral way, by touching the lives of so many in our Archdiocese with a word, a call, a letter, a message, or a visit. Whenever he found someone in trouble, or suffering, or lacking peace, he just connected quietly and he remained in contact with many, many people in need. They still value his awareness and care today.
Retiring chancellor leaves unique imprint
My gratitude is also for Archbishop’s continued acknowledgement of women in the Church and the part that women can play in leadership roles. Archbishop Faulkner included women in his leadership team. When I first came into the Archdiocesan Office, Archbishop Wilson had three female chancellors and I can remember talking at that time to leaders in other dioceses in Australia, who were amazed by this Adelaide model.
When the recent verdict of ‘not guilty’, was announced for Archbishop, and when I read the article by Fr Frank Brennan in Eureka Street, for me it was a new beginning.
Fr Brennan said: ‘Philip Wilson was always the wrong test case for this cumbersome, unworkable legislative provision’.
He said ‘the road to truth, justice and healing will not be found via any more prosecutions under the derelict section 316…in this instance, the processes of the criminal law have inflicted great harm’ and he also said Philip Wilson ‘should be left in peace’.
I also trust that Archbishop will find his home, that he will find peace and rest, and that he will be supported in his desire to live quietly and prayerfully. I trust that he will be treated with great respect and welcome wherever he may be, and that derision and rejection will no longer be part of his life. Archbishop Wilson deserves an opportunity for peace and rest, and a chance to recover from wounds that are deep indeed…and for (my husband) Tony and I, Archbishop Wilson will always be welcome in our home.