Bishop Michael Putney: Big heart of the north

Bishop Michael Putney

Townsville Bishop Michael Putney was well-loved in North West Queensland. He has died, aged 67, after living with stomach cancer for the last 18 months. 

Michael Putney, Bishop of Townsville, leading ecumenist. 

Born 1946, died 2014.

- By Paul Dobbyn, The Catholic Leader

Townsville's Bishop Michael Putney died on March 28. On the morning of his death, more than 140 parishioners from around Townsville diocese gathered for a workshop on evangelisation, one of the Bishop's initiatives launched in what he described as his 'miracle year' of 2013.

Townsville diocese's communication/vocations officer Neil Helmore said: 'Bishop Michael learnt of his inoperable stomach cancer in late 2012.

'He was not expected to live much past this time last year.

'So when he got to continue, initiate and tidy up many of his projects throughout last year, he called 2013 his miracle year.'

Bishop Putney, was born in Gladstone on June 20, 1946, and received most of his education in Townsville.

He completed his secondary schooling with the Christian Brothers at St Columban's College, Albion in Brisbane.

Bishop Putney studied for the priesthood at Banyo Seminary from 1963 and was ordained on June 28, 1969.

His intense interest in ecumenism came during his time as a seminarian during the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Putney was installed as Townsville's bishop in March 2001.

He also held several key roles linked to ecumenical dialogue.

His doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University Rome, in 1985, was on ecumenism.

He was president of Queensland Churches Together – the Churches' state ecumenical body – from March 1999 to March 2000.

Bishop Putney also became Catholic co-chairman of the International Methodist/Roman Catholic Dialogue for many years, until stepping down in 2013 due to ill health.

At the start of 2013, he had made public his diagnosis of inoperable stomach cancer which had spread to his liver having learnt the news in late 2012.

A Mass on January 10 2013 to pray for Townsville's popular Bishop overflowed Sacred Heart Cathedral, with more than 1000 people attending.

In an interview with The Catholic Leader in January, Bishop Putney said 'I am happy once more to leave my life and work in the diocese, completely in the hands of God.

'I did that at the beginning of last year and had one of the most amazing years of my life,' he said.

'I am looking forward to what lies ahead, whatever it may be.'

Just a week before he died, he launched a book called My Ecumenical Journey. His good friend Australian Anglican Primate Archbishop Phillip Aspinall launched the book.

Read full obituary: Bishop Michael Putney called home to God (The Catholic Leader)

MORE:

Bishop Putney mourned (The Catholic Leader)

Bishop Putney dies (The Catholic Weekly)

Minister honours Bishop Putney (The Catholic Leader)

Bishop Michael Putney dies (ABC North West Queensland)

Bishop Michael Putney loses battle with cancer (Townsville Bulletin)

WATCH:

Lenten Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of Townsville from Bishop Michael Putney (Archdiocese of Townsville/YouTube)

Seven Local News - Bishop Michael Putney (YouTube)

LISTEN:

North West grieving for Bishop Michael Putney (ABC Brisbane)

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