Pope Benedict XVI named the first Jesuit bishop in Australian history this week. Fr. Greg O’Kelly, SJ, will be ordained to the episcopate in September to serve as auxiliary to Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide.

“I was completely astonished because this is quite out of the ordinary for a Jesuit to be appointed to this position so it took me totally by surprise,” Fr O’Kelly said. “It is an honor to be asked to serve the Adelaide people in this way.”

Born and raised in Adelaide, Fr O’Kelly entered the Jesuit order in1959 and was ordained a priest in 1972. The 64-year-old is currently headmaster of Saint Ignatius’ College. He has been a consultor of the Australian Jesuits since 2003.

He hopes to bring a greater outlook of hope, faith, and meaning to the archdiocese. “I hope that I can work with the priests, archbishop and families of the diocese to give young people a sense of meaning in their lives, based on values, hope, and faith,” he said.

Archbishop Wilson, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, welcomed Fr O’Kelly’s appointment.

“He brings to the episcopate the fruits of his Jesuit formation and experience,” the archbishop said. “He has also been well prepared for this new role by his diverse experience and leadership in Catholic education throughout Australia. I look forward to working closely with him as we face the challenges in the archdiocese and our state.”

The Jesuits have been in Australia for more than 150 years. When the first two Austrian Jesuits arrived at Port Adelaide in 1848, they were given a parish territory twice the size of France.