Parishioners at St Joseph Catholic Church were surprised to hear of the transfer of their Bishop, Michael Kennedy, to the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese earlier this month.

This appointment follows the untimely death in November 2021 of Bishop Bill Wright who had led the diocese for 10 years. The transfer was announced in Rome by Pope Francis on February 2.

In a statement to the media, Bishop Kennedy said: “I willingly and heartily accept this new appointment, knowing that like all endeavours, it will have both joys and challenges.

“I have been delighted to live and minister as Bishop within the New England and North West region for the past 11 years. I have enjoyed travelling around the diocese, meeting so many people and seeing the wonderful things occurring in the parishes. I will miss the people and the area and will hold the Armidale Diocese in a special place in my heart for the rest of my life.

“It certainly came as a surprise to me that the Holy Father now wishes me to relocate to the Hunter region. I am now looking forward to meeting and getting to know the priests and the people of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

“A diocesan administrator will be elected to lead the diocese until the Holy Father appoints a new bishop.

“I assure the people of both dioceses of my prayers for them and ask your prayers in return.”

Bishop Kennedy visited St Joseph’s Parish several times a year, visiting St Xavier’s and St Mary’s and was chief celebrant at the centenary of the laying of the church foundation stone in 2018.

Bishop Kennedy was just 43 years of age when he came to the Armidale Diocese from the Diocese of Wagga Wagga where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1999. 

He was the parish priest of Leeton and the Dean of Murrumbidgee Deanery when his appointment as Bishop of Armidale as announced. Bishop Kennedy’s episcopal ordination was held at the Cathedral of Saints Mary and Joseph, in Armidale, on February 9, 2012.

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