by JEFF DILLON

With a seemingly endless round of birthday celebrations which threatened to equal in number his actual years, the Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop Colin Campbell marked a major milestone recently in reaching his 75th birthday.

As he moved around the Dunedin diocese in September fulfilling his episcopal functions he found himself ambushed on many occasions with pre-birthday celebrations.

He had to confess that he found the celebrations put on by parishioners on each occasion to be “quite delightful”.

Bishop Campbell was born in the Southland town of Otautau on September 22, 1941.

At the tender age of two weeks his parents moved the family back to North Invercargill and it was in that suburb that he started school at St Theresa’s School.

The month of September and into October has seen Bishop Campbell moving around the diocese for meetings here and there and officiating at Confirmations at Alexandra, Georgetown parish in Invercargill and at North Invercargill and into October at Bluff and Ranfurly. Every stop led to a birthday ambush.

The day before his actual birthday he was at his old alma mater, St Theresa’s in North Invercargill for Confirmation. There, as had happened at other schools, the children had prepared birthday cards and put on a special welcome. In this case the bishop had a decorated school chair to sit in and a “feather” cloak was draped around his shoulders.

Principal Julian Ineson noted that 75 years was a long time in world history and he began a PowerPoint slide show depicting many major events throughout the last 75 years. These included events like man landing on the moon, Martin Luther King’s famous speech, the fall of the Berlin wall and so on. In every scene there was a figure with Bishop Campbell’s face. A little clever Photo-shopping had Bishop Campbell at the centre of many famous historic moments. The doctored pictures hit the mark with everyone there including the pupils, who were delirious with laughter.

The next day, on his actual birthday, Bishop Campbell had a much quieter celebration with family in Invercargill. Bishop Campbell has already marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this year. It is also just over 12 years since he was ordained Bishop of Dunedin on July 9, 2004.

Now with him turning 75 he has followed the request in canon law to tender his resignation to the Pope and will await further instructions. With the vacant position of the Bishop of Christchurch diocese yet to be determined he expects that his resignation will be acknowledged but he will be asked to remain as bishop in the interim.

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