Bishop-elect Gregory Charles Bennet is the tenth Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sale. He comes to us from the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Bishop-elect Bennet was born in 1963 and educated at St Dominic’s Primary School, East Camberwell, All Hallows Primary School Balwyn and Marcellin College Bulleen, before completing his secondary education at the ecumenical Braemar College at Woodend. He then joined the Commercial Bank of Australia whilst undertaking studies in Public Administration.
In 1986 he began his seminary training and was ordained a priest for the Melbourne Archdiocese in 1992, ministering in several parishes. He continued his studies overseas graduating as a Master of Science in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University Maryland, USA before obtaining a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
On his return from Rome, Fr Bennet was appointed Director of the Ministry to Priests and Director of Ongoing Formation for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. In 2005 he became the inaugural Director of the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation and also commenced as Parish Priest of St Bede’s Balwyn North. In 2012 Archbishop Hart appointed him Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, the same year that Fr Bennet was awarded the distinction of being appointed as a Prelate of Honour of His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI. In March 2020 he was appointed by Archbishop Peter Comensoli as Parish Priest of St Joseph’s West Brunswick.
Pope Francis appointed Monsignor Bennet as tenth Bishop of Sale on 27 June 2020, the Feast Day of the Patroness of the Diocese, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in succession to Bishop Patrick O’Regan now Archbishop of Adelaide.
The personal arms and motto, which Bishop Bennet adopted on his appointment, are of a personal character, described as:
On a silver shield a red cross of Calvary, reflecting the Memorial Cross at Mount Macedon
Stands on a green mound which is sprouting green shoots with blackened lower leaves, representing pasture in regrowth after a bushfire.
The episcopal cross and the arms are ensigned by the green galero (hat) with six tassels on either side which are the traditional identifying insignia of a bishop.
In the Catholic Church there are three levels of ordination within the sacrament of Holy Orders: Deacon, Priest and Bishop. The Second Vatican Council spoke of the Bishop as having ‘the fullness of the sacrament of Orders’ and dedicated an entire Decree to the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church. As we prepare to welcome our new Bishop, Gregory Bennet as Bishop of Sale, we might be wondering what a Bishop is and what they do.
The primary role of any Bishop is to ensure that the work of Christ is carried out at the local level by caring for all the faithful entrusted to him in his particular diocese. Often the Bishop is referred to as the Chief Shepherd since his ministry is modelled on that of Christ the Good Shepherd. Immediately we can see that the role of the Bishop is not simply that of ‘governing’ a local Church, but of caring for it and nurturing it and enabling it to grow and flourish. The role of the Bishop is that of guardian, teacher and preacher.