Retiring Wollongong Bishop Peter Ingham says leading the Diocese for 16 years was "the privilege of my life", the Illawarra Mercury reports.
"It has been the privilege of my life to have been entrusted with the stewardship of this Diocese for the past 16 years, and I shall certainly miss the interaction I have had with the wonderful people of this region," Bishop Ingham said.
He knew the day a successor bishop was coming almost two years ago, as he submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday in 2016.
Yet there was a "sense of relief" for the Bishop when Pope Francis named Fr Brian Mascord as the fifth Bishop of Wollongong last week.
"I’ve been the Bishop here for 16 and a half years and prior to that I was eight years as an auxiliary Bishop in Sydney. So the responsibilities of the load lifted is a real blessing. Particularly as you get older," Bishop Ingham said.
"I'm 77 in January and people say I look well, which I do, but my mind and my body is that of a 77-year-old. It is time to go."
Living and working in the Illawarra has been one of many highlights for Bishop Ingham. He also enjoyed being a part of the Journey of the Cross and Icon in 2007 and World Youth Day in 2008.
But the last two years have been tough for the Church and Bishop Ingham.
"The greatest sorrow is the fact that children and vulnerable adults have been abused by people in positions of trust and the realisation that abuse has a long tail," he said. "Some people's lives have been seriously damaged and their ability to form relationships forever impaired. Some have sadly even taken their own lives, and that breaks my heart and it's caused a great sorrow."
After Bishop-elect Mascord is ordained and Bishop Ingham completes his duties as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wollongong, he plans on reconnecting with loved ones.
‘It's been the privilege of my life’: Bishop ready to depart (Illawarra Mercury)