New Ballarat Catholic Bishop brings peace message

Father Paul Bird’s message for Ballarat can be summed up with one word - peace.

He will be ordained today as the new Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat during a ceremony at St Patrick’s Cathedral, in which 600 guests are expected to attend.

Speaking ahead of the ordination, Father Bird said he hoped to bring more people back to the church in one of its most challenging periods.

As head of the diocese, Father Bird said he would push a message of peace to the people of Ballarat.

When ordained, Catholic bishops select a motto that they carry with them from the point onwards.

Father Bird has chosen “peace be with you” as his motto.

“It’s not easy to find peace of heart, let alone peace within your relationships,” he said.

“I hope that whatever I do will promote that for people, personally and for the communities I serve.”

The Diocese of Ballarat covers all of western Victoria, reaching as far away as Mildura and the South Australian border.

Father Bird admitted there had been a shortfall in attendance numbers for church services but said it was possible to turn around.

He also said he hoped to foster more positive relations with other denominations within the Christian church

“It is difficult (to bring people back to the church) but because things are difficult doesn’t mean they are impossible,” Father Bird said.

 “The fact it’s difficult doesn’t mean you should give up your efforts.” 

“We need to push the message of Christ as positively as possible.

 “People have to be persuaded it’s a good thing, but you can’t force people.”

The ordination ceremony and mass will be held St Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat today at 11.30am, led by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.

Nearly 100 priests and 30 bishops from across Australia will be in attendance to celebrate the ordination.

A big screen will be set up in St Patrick’s Hall next to the cathedral for people who are unable to fit inside the cathedral for  the ceremony.