Amid the countless times Bishop Peter Ingham has comforted the sick, performed marriage ceremonies and baptisms, or celebrated feast days and masses, one encounter has always stuck with this Bishop of Wollongong, reports The Illawarra Mercury.
'In my days in Sydney, a woman who I knew in the parish was dying from cancer and I went to see her in hospital,' he recalled. 'The way she looked at me, it was almost like she was looking right into my soul. You could see she was really wanting to be supported as she faced death.
'It was a very impressive moment that I’ve never forgotten because I could sense she was trying to reach me to give her what she needed at the critical time in her life.'
On the eve of his 50th anniversary of becoming a priest, Bishop Ingham was reflective.
Ordained on July 18, 1964, when he was just 23 years old, he remembers the ceremony as one of the most spiritual moments of his life. After seven years at the seminary, he was ordained at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral, alongside two other Illawarra ministers – Father Bryan Jones and Father Maurice Rosa.
In the five decades since, having seen the good and bad of human nature, he has found what he believes could be the key to happiness.
'To my mind, as I’ve got older, life is about relationships, he said. It’s about the way we relate to each other and how we support and help each other.'
During his priesthood, Bishop Ingham has served as an assistant priest, the private secretary for Cardinal Freeman, secretary of the Archdiocese of Sydney and as a parish priest in Ryde. In 1993, he was ordained as an auxiliary bishop of Sydney, before being made Bishop of Wollongong in 2001.
Although the Bishop never wavered in his decision to become a priest, he has faced other challenges during his years with the Church.
FULL STORY Bishop Peter Ingham's five decades of devotion (Illawarra Mercury)