A yarn with the new Bishop of Rockhampton

Bishop Designate McCarthy

Interviewing this 63-year-old priest was a bit like a relaxed chat over a backyard fence – a style which will doubtless go down well in the rurally-influenced environment where he'll be bishop. 

- By Paul Dobbyn, The Catholic Leader

'So... the Church of Rocky? Well, I'm looking forward to it and the first thing I'll be doing is to get out and visit the country centres.'

Influences on the bishop-designate's life and priesthood played a major part in the conversation during our interview - with several mentions of his often-struggling farming parents.

Then there were the priests, all sorts, from teachers at Downlands College, Toowoomba, where he boarded, to Brisbane's Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

He described watching the live telecast of Neil Armstrong's landing on the moon as 'a seminal moment' in his studies to become an industrial chemist.

'I got my faith from my father and mother as they kept faith to the Church and God through the droughts and other hard times as farmers in the Greenmount area on the Darling Downs,' he said. 'Mum and Dad did it tough during the droughts, handfeeding cows and so on. Farming was not easy and often a constant struggle.

'My parents did it hard and often went without to educate myself and my brother as we boarded at Downlands for four years ... I was there from '64 to '67.'

Growing up on a dairy farm in the country made famous by Steele Rudd (the author of Dad And Dave), young Michael was up early milking cows and did likewise after school.

'Religious education at the local state school was from Mercy Sisters based at St Saviour's School, Toowoomba. The Sisters would prepare us to receive the sacraments.'

After school , he entered the newly established Queensland Institute of Technology annexe at Darling Heights in Toowoomba. He took on a three-year course in industrial chemistry, after which he chose to work as an industrial chemist with BHP in Newcastle.

Involvement with the YCW (Young Christian Workers) deepened his connection to the Church and finally in 1975, aged 24, he entered St Paul's National Seminary for late vocations in Kensington, Sydney.

Ordained in 1978, then Fr McCarthy's first posting was in Gympie the following year.

In subsequent years, the priest who grew up in Greenmount has served in a number of pastoral roles including rector of the three versions of the Banyo seminary, dean forane (a vicar forane, sometimes called a dean, is a priest appointed by the bishop in order to promote a common pastoral activity in a region of the diocese and to provide spiritual and pastoral counsel to the other priests in that region) of South Coast, director for the permanent formation of the clergy, and as priest of the parish of Hendra and episcopal vicar for clergy.

His installation will be at an 11am Mass in St Joseph's Cathedral on Thursday, May 29.

READ FULL ARTICLE: New bishop: Rock's leader to listen (The Catholic Leader)

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Fr Michael McCarthy Appointed as New Bishop - Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton (Diocese of Rockhampton)

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