by PETER GRACE
Hamilton diocese received the best gift possible from the West Coast on February 13 — Hokitika born priest, now bishop, Stephen Lowe.
Bishop-Elect Lowe was ordained and installed as the third bishop of Hamilton at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The ordination and installation, beginning at 6pm, included the new bishop’s ring,
mitre and crosier being brought to him on the altar. His crosier was carried by Hokitika couple Jan and Murray Bain.
Principal consecrating bishop Denis Browne described his episcopal replacement as a
man with the courage to contend with God for his people,because he is a man of prayer.
About a year ago, Bishop Browne said, Pope Francis met bishops at the Vatican. He told
them the Church does not need bishops who are elitists, but those who are humble, faithful
and confident in the Lord.
“The other quality of a bishop he identified is that the bishop must be a man of prayer,”
Bishop Browne said.
A man who does not have the courage to contend with God for his people is not fit to be a bishop. Addressing the bishop-elect, he said:
“You will not fail in this calling because you are a man of prayer, and you will continue
to be a man of prayer, and you will constantly reflect on the part God plays in your
At the beginning of the ceremonies, local women gave a karanga as about 10 bishops processed in, including the apostolic nuncio and Emeritus Cardinal Thomas Williams. Sr Tui Cadigan, RSM, sounded out the reply.
In his address of greetings to dignitaries, the bishop-elect’s family, 90 priests around the altar and more than 600 people in and around the church, Bishop Browne noted, referring to one of the readings chosen by the bishop-elect: “You’re asked to be of service to the
community. . . . And you readily answered the Lord, as St Peter answered the Lord, “Yes, Lord, I love you”.
“You won’t repeat it three times, but many times each day.”
The community has high expectations of Stephen Lowe, Bishop Browne said, to laughter,
“but the expectations are higher because your second name is Marmion, and . . . there’s a blood relationship between yourself and Blessed Abbot Marmion”.
The abbot wrote many books and was recognised until the time of his death for always
concentrating on making Jesus the centre of spiritual life. “And you have absorbed that.
“Bishop Stephen, you will often preside in this cathedral and always, please God, you
will be blessed by the spirit and support of this family of God.”
Bishop Brown concluded by inviting Bishop-Elect Lowe to commit himself to the Lord in the ceremony of ordination and installation.
After his ordination and installation, Bishop Lowe celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Immediately before the Concluding Rites, he gave a brief address of thanks.
God does amazing things for those who believe in Christ, he said. The waters of Baptism,
the bread and wine — his own body and blood.
“It has been a truly humbling three months since I was informed that Pope Francis appointed
me bishop of Hamilton. It has been a profound journey which many of you have been part of.”
He had received support and messages of encouragement from his family and from
many in the congregation. “I ask you, please keep praying for me.”
So many people had made the ordination possible. “So many people have done so many things,” he said, including helping with preparation for Eucharist the next day.
“One who I would like to mention is you, Bishop Denis. You have been a shepherd of this diocese for 20 years . . . but you have been a bishop for 38 years.
“We hope that you enjoy rest and retirement, but be assured that we aren’t putting you out
“I look forward to you being my spiritual father, the man of charity and great pastoral
sense. I know the people of God of this Church want you to continue pastoring among them.”
Addressing the congregation, he said: “The shepherd knows his own and they know him, and I look forward to coming to know you and to love you. God bless you all.”
by PETER GRACE