Under a clear blue sky, community leaders and representatives from across the diocese came together to welcome Bishop Ken Howell as the Seventh Bishop of Toowoomba. The Solemn Liturgical Reception was held on Tuesday, 11 July, at St Patrick’s Cathedral Toowoomba.
Some 800 people gathered, including 23 bishops and 140 clergy, joined civic and community leaders, parish delegates and inter-faith representatives in welcoming Bishop Howell to the community. Even more gathered virtually to watch live online via YouTube and Facebook.
The Installation commenced at 11 am with a procession of clergy. Bishop Howell, joined by the Dean of the Cathedral, Fr Michael O’Brien, and Deacon Andrew O’Brien, were greeted on the steps of the Cathedral by a local First Nations People representative offering a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, called for the Apostolic Decree to be read. Called the Papal Bull, the message from Rome officially names Bishop Howell as the new Bishop of Toowoomba. As Bishop Howell took his seat on the cathedra, the bishop’s seat, the congregation applauded. During the service, representatives from across the diocese, its ministries, and other faiths came forward to welcome Bishop Howell.
The celebration was full of moments that link the diocese’s past to the present and future. The date has special significance with Bishop Robert McGuckin’s Ordination as the Sixth Bishop of Toowoomba held on the same date 11 years prior. Bishop McGuckin, with Bishop William Morris, the Fifth Bishop of Toowoomba, presented Bishop Howell with the crosier of the First Bishop of Toowoomba, Bishop James Byrne.
During his homily, Bishop Ken acknowledged that the day’s events heralded not only a new chapter for the diocese, but a “continuation of a story that has been guided by the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.”
“My first task is to get to know you and to do as Pope Francis urges us to do, to listen deeply to your story and to grow in love of the people entrusted to my care.” Bishop Ken said.
Bishop Ken and Mr Tom Jolley, on behalf of the diocese, also gave thanks for the ministry and leadership of Bishop Robert McGuckin. Bishop Robert will now enjoy retirement and a much-deserved break.
The Mass was followed by refreshments in the Cathedral Centre, offering the opportunity to socialise and get to know the new bishop.