Dunedin Bishop-Elect Michael Dooley’s ordination to the Episcopate will be on Thursday 26th April at 6.00pm in the Dunedin Town Hall, the diocese announced.

Bishop-elect Dooley will be the seventh Bishop of Dunedin and he succeeds Bishop Colin Campbell who has served in this role for almost 14 years. Bishop-elect Dooley was appointed by Pope Francis as the new bishop on February.

Bishop-elect Dooley confessed he felt uncomfortable when he first received the news.

“When I got the message, I felt quite sick,” he said while laughing. “Once it was made public, I got so much support that it really lifted me up. I was really encouraged and supported.”

“Once it was made public, I got so much support that it really lifted me up. I was really encouraged and supported.”

-Bishop-elect Dooley

“I could see now this is what I am being called to so I am happy now to take on that role,” he added.

He was already in Wellington for a finance meeting of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference when he got a call from Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Martin Krebs.

Bishop-elect Dooley was invited to the Nuncio’s residence where he (Bishop-elect Dooley) was informed of the appointment.

Born in Invercargill in 1961 to Joseph Dooley and Mary Hogan, the young Michael Dooley was educated at Heddon Bush Primary School and Central Southland College.

After completing an engineering apprenticeship as a fitter and turner, he went on to do a Bachelor of Theology at Otago University and a Master of Theology at Melbourne’s College of Divinity.

Fr Dooley was ordained on December 13, 1989. From 1995, he has served as a member of the Priests’ Council and was a parish priest for more than 10 years in Southland and Otago. The bishop-elect was a director at the Holy Cross Formation Centre in Mosgiel and held the role of formator and spiritual director at Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland.

In 2016, Bishop Colin Campbell appointed the then Fr Dooley to the role of vicar general for Dunedin diocese.

Bishop Campbell will continue on in the role of administrator of the diocese, until the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Dooley.

In recognising Bishop Campbell’s role as Dunedin’s bishop for almost 14 years, New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference president Bishop Patrick Dunn said, “he has been a compassionate and selfless leader, very much loved by his clergy and people”.

“I thank him for his untiring service and longstanding commitment to all those in his diocese. We bishops have also greatly appreciated his wisdom and experience at our conference meetings.”

Reactions to Bishop-elect Dooley news

People from Dunedin diocese speak on Bishop-elect Dooley’s appointment and his future ministry.

Bishop Colin Campbell: I know that the people of the Dunedin diocese will warmly welcome the announcement that they now have a new bishop. I have had the pleasure of working with Michael and am delighted with his appointment — his pastoral roles and extensive experience in serving God as a parish leader, formator and spiritual guide have prepared him well for the position. May God bless him and guide him as he takes up this role.

Pesamino Tili (director of religious studies, St Peter Chanel School, Green Island)  : Admittedly my initial reaction a feeling of loss because as a parish and school we will be losing an amazing priest who will be missed dearly (especially at his station at the tombola at our annual school fair). He has the trust and respect of his parishioners with his gentle manner and strong sense of God’s presence that helps draw people to an experience of Christ. At another level, it was not too much of a surprise, as he has been supporting the bishop with the administrative governance of our diocese for a while now, so it is a beautiful recognition of his ability to lead and work with a range of people, personalities and spiritualities.

“[Bishop-elect Dooley] has the trust and respect of his parishioners with his gentle manner and strong sense of God’s presence that helps draw people to an experience of Christ.”

Fr Michael is a man who exemplifies humility and is highly regarded by many. When he has discerned a decision or has a clear vision, he is decisive. He is a patient, friendly and approachable and has a strong pastoral ministry, not only caring for his parishioners but also supporting wider initiatives within the Green Island area such as the community garden and the development of the men’s shed.

He is collaborative with a wide network of priestly brothers, friends and community people and will seek support where needed. Fr Michael’s mission is to fulfil God’s will, so along his new journey God will be with him to overcome . . . challenges in the best way possible. I pray all the best for his new appointment as our Bishop of Dunedin. Arohanui.

Gerald Scanlan (Director – The Catholic Institute): I am delighted to hear about Bishop-elect Michael Dooley’s appointment. He is a man of the South, well-known and liked in the diocese. He is approachable, thoughtful and open to others’ advice and contributions. He has taken a strong interest in lay formation and pastoral development in the diocese. As vicar-general in recent years, he has taken on wider responsibilities in the diocese and equipped himself for the leadership role to which he has now been called.

He also has a good grasp of the challenges facing our Church at this time, which are common to all dioceses in New Zealand: static or declining numbers of active Catholics and of priests to pastor them, developing sustainable and collaborative approaches to pastoral leadership and ministry, encouraging ever-deeper and better-formed faith commitment among Catholics, and helping each of us find ways to share that commitment with others, finding effective ways to listen and speak to New Zealand’s diverse communities, and standing with and for the people on the margins of those communities and for our common home.

I’m confident that Michael’s strengths and talents will be the gifts that the people of the Dunedin diocese need at this time, and that he will strengthen the collective leadership of the New Zealand bishops.

Sr Veronica Casey, PBVM (Senior Prison Chaplain): I am delighted for Michael as he prepares to take up his new role as Bishop of Dunedin diocese. Michael is a truly pastoral person and very much a man for the people. He is a wise and spiritual guide with an open and informed theological base for both preaching and direction. He is well-liked and respected by priests and people alike and is very much part of local combined churches initiatives, particularly at Christmas and Easter. He is also very involved in local community initiatives such as the community garden.

With a large geographical population sparsely populated in many areas and with the aging of priests and their declining numbers, his skills of consultation and inclusiveness combined with some very good advisors and strategic planners will be invaluable to working with the people to develop and implement a clear strategy for facilitating life in the diocese.

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