Bishop Stephen Lowe of Hamilton found attending a recent Vatican course for new bishops to be both stimulating and challenging. 

Every two years, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples runs a seminar in Rome for new bishops of the mission territories.

Bishop Lowe told NZ Catholic that this year, in September, 94 new bishops attended from “diverse and different parts of the world”.

“These included the Bishop of Fairbanks , Alaska, whose diocese extends well above the Arctic Circle, the Bishop of Tripoli in Libya, the Bishop of Dili in Timor Leste, Bishops from Ethiopia and the upper reaches of the Amazon, and two Bishops of Hamilton; Hamilton,
Bermuda and Hamilton, New Zealand.”

Bishop Lowe said the two-week course was centred around daily prayer and Eucharist.

“Most days there were three inputs from the prefects or senior officials of the various Vatican congregations and councils. This enabled us to get a good insight into the workings of the Vatican agencies and also for those speaking to give us some guidance on the roles  and responsibilities that fall upon us as new bishops.

A significant part of these presentations was our ability to ask questions which again revealed the diversity of the Church and the many challenges it faces in various
parts of the world.”

Bishop Lowe identified the main highlight as the audience the bishops had with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace.

“Other highlights of the. . . seminar included being present for the canonisation of St Teresa of Kolkatta and the bishops’ pilgrimage to the tomb of St Francis in Assisi.

“Meeting bishops from around the world and having the ability to share our experiences, our joys and challenges was a real blessing.

“There was a general consensus of the privilege of being a bishop and at the same time a certain sense of being daunted by the office entrusted to us.

“Nonetheless there was a real joy among the bishops and enthusiasm for the mission.”

Bishop Lowe said that, overall, “it was a stimulating two weeks which has sparked lots of areas to pray and reflect upon as well as giving me some ideas for my own episcopal ministry”.

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