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Bishop Richard Umbers (The Catholic Weekly/Marilyn Rodrigues)

Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers swapped Marmite for Vegemite a long time ago but now can officially call Australia home. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

Kiwi-born and bred, the 53-year-old was granted Australian citizenship at a ceremony at the Leichhardt Town Hall on April 15.

Waiting beforehand with his pledge in one hand and Bible in the other, he wouldn’t be drawn on which is better, Australia or New Zealand, the Wallabies or All Blacks.

“The acceptance of one is not the rejection of the other, you can have the best of both worlds so I’m green and gold, black and white,” he smiled.

The young Richard Umbers was 20 and already a member of Opus Dei when he arrived in Sydney from his native Auckland to embark on a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Sydney, never guessing that he would later become one of the city’s bishops in 2016.

“Today is the end of a very long road,” he said, explaining that upon his election, then-president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart, told him he had to become a citizen.

“But between one thing and another you get busy as a bishop. It would have been much simpler if I had acted on it when I was 20, but things have ended happily.”

The bishop said he has formed many friendships with Aussies over the past three decades which still “run deep” today, even from those early university years.

He said it was “nice to feel at home both here and in New Zealand but I think it’s more the case – as Christians in general understand – that our homeland is in heaven.”


I come from a Land Down Umbers (By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly)