Sydney, Australia, Sep 18, 2014 / 14:24 pm
Pope Francis has named the next Archbishop of Sydney: Parramatta Bishop Anthony Fisher, O.P., a Sydney native and a lead organizer for the 2008 World Youth Day in Australia.
"I'm very excited to be returning to the Archdiocese of Sydney and building on the strong foundations left by my predecessor Cardinal George Pell," Archbishop-designate Fisher said Sept. 18.
"Sydney is a vibrant, growing city with so much potential to be one of the greatest cities – and faith communities – of the world."
On his Twitter account, he said he feels a "deep affinity for every part of this wonderful city."
"I ask all Catholics and other people of good will to pray for me that I might be a good shepherd after the heart of Jesus Christ," the archbishop-designate said.
Bishop Peter Comensoli, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Sydney, welcomed the next archbishop.
"He has a great breadth and depth of experience beyond Sydney, having engaged extensively in key areas of Australian life, including family, education, healthcare and young people," Bishop Comensoli said.
In 2003, Pope John Paul II named the archbishop-designate as auxiliary bishop for the Sydney archdiocese. In that time, he served as chairman of the Catholic Schools Board and as Episcopal Vicar for Life and Health, as well as coordinator of the 2008 World Youth Day.
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI named him bishop of the Diocese of Parramatta, which is centered in a major Sydney suburb.
As Bishop of Parramatta, he focused on support for families and young people of ethnic backgrounds. He also promoted vocations and evangelization, the Archdiocese of Sydney said. His pastoral letters have addressed topics like confession, pastoral planning, child abuse, personal vocation, and the Eucharist.
Archbishop-designate Fisher, 54, was born in southwest Sydney and educated in local Catholic schools. He studied history and law at the University of Sydney. Following his studies there, he practiced in a law firm in the city and became involved in the pro-life movement.
In 1985, Fisher entered the Dominican religious order and began his theology studies in Melbourne. He worked on immigration and refugee issues at the social research center Uniya. He was ordained a priest in 1991 and finished his doctorate in bioethics at the University of Oxford four years later. The archbishop-designate was a lecturer at the Australian Catholic University. He has delivered speeches in numerous countries and has been widely published.
Archbishop-designate Fisher has served as foundation director for the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, where he was a professor of moral theology and bioethics. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which advises the Church on bioethics.
He also served as Master of Students in the Dominican Order and was deputy to the Dominican provincial. He is chairman of New South Wales' Catholic Education Commission.
As coordinator of the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney, the archbishop-designate oversaw events including the largest Mass in Australia's history. He said of the gathering, "We have been invaded by joy."
The Sydney archdiocese has 664,000 Catholics in a population of almost 2.5 million. It has 484 priests and over 1,500 vowed religious.
Its previous archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, is now head of the Vatican's new Secretariat for the Economy, which oversees Vatican economic and administrative affairs. The cardinal is also one of the nine cardinals on a special council that advises Pope Francis on Church governance and the reform of the Roman Curia.
Archbishop-designate Fisher will be installed at Sydney's St. Mary's Cathedral on a date to be announced. He will be the archdiocese's ninth archbishop.