Bishop Les appointed head of Sandhurst flock

By Elise Snashall-Woodhams
Updated November 7 2012 - 6:58am, first published February 3 2012 - 10:54am
Proud: The Mildura diocese is delighted that one of their own is now Bishop of Sandhurst.
Proud: The Mildura diocese is delighted that one of their own is now Bishop of Sandhurst.

The bells of Sacred Heart Cathedral tolled at 10pm yesterday to mark a fresh chapter in Bendigo’s Catholic history, the appointment of the new Bishop of Sandhurst.Bishop Les Tomlinson was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the diocese’s seventh Bishop in its 138 year history.Speaking to the Bendigo Advertiser yesterday, Bishop Tomlinson said he was humbled yet excited to lead a large and varied diocese.“The role of bishop is a very rich role where the person appointed has the responsibility of leading the people, caring for them and ensuring the faith is taught,” he said.“It’s a bit like being a parish priest but of a larger area and a bigger number of people.”Bishop Tomlinson said building relationships with the Sandhurst community was his number one priority.“In reflecting on over almost 40 years of my Priesthood, I believe that the richest and most fulfilling aspect of my ministry has been my work as a pastor. “I have made a priority in my ministry in reaching out to the people I wish to serve.”Bishop Tomlinson said he had always thought of Bendigo as a “fine city” and was looking forward to finding out more about Sandhurst’s outlying areas. “Obviously I will need to be prepared to drive a bit but I think it will be alright because I’ve always enjoyed getting about the parish here in Melbourne,” he said.“Here people will be a bit more spread out but that will make for the individuality of each community.”Bishop Tomlinson’s appointment will mean a much needed rest for Monsignor Frank Marriott who has been taking care of the parish for the past 12 months. Monsignor Marriott said he warmly welcomed Bishop Tomlinson’s appointment and would now go “back into the ranks”.“I will resume on the first of March my role as administrator of the cathedral and chancellor of the diocese and like all other priests will be subjected to whatever role the bishop wants me to fill,” he said.Bishop Tomlinson will be officially installed as the seventh Bishop of Sandhurst on Thursday, March 1, by the Metropolitan of the Victorian Province, Archbishop Dennis Hart.Born and bred in Mildura, it was a local pastor who inspired Bendigo’s new Bishop Les Tomlinson to enter the priesthood.“As I finished school, and was reflecting on what I might do with my life, I was fortunate to have a lot of priests in my life,” Bishop Tomlinson said.“There was one in particular who had been recently ordained and I was inspired by him, his commitment and his work in the church.“I thought that might have been what God wanted me to do so I talked with people and prayed about it and that’s what led me to apply to the seminary.”That inspirational man was Father Frank Monoghan who, while now officially retired, still takes mass on occasion in the Mildura Diocese.Speaking to the Bendigo Advertiser yesterday, Father Monoghan said he remembered Bishop Tomlinson as a well-mannered boy.“He went to school here as a boy. He was nice and friendly,” he said.“He was a regular at mass and used to serve mass.”Father Monoghan said it had been 50 years since he had seen Bishop Tomlinson but the whole diocese had been excited to here of his appointment as Bishop of Sandhurst.“We’re quite pleased by it,” he said.“Good luck poor fella. It’s got a lot of responsibility.”Bishop Tomlinson was born in Mildura in 1943, completed his primary education at Sacred Heart School and then his secondary education at St Joseph’s College.In 1968 he started studies for the priesthood at Corpus College Werribee. At the invitation of the then Archbishop James Knox, he became one of the initial class at St Paul’s National Seminary in New South Wales.Following his ordination in 1972, he worked at a number of parishes mostly within the Melbourne diocese apart from a brief stint in Hobart.Bishop Tomlinson was Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral for four months prior to being appointed Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, in 2003, a position he has held until now.Pope John Paul II named him as a Prelate of Honour in 2003. In 2009 he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Titular Bishop of Siniti and Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne and was ordained a bishop at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne.

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