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From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, our liturgies and the scriptures proclaimed in them take us back to Jerusalem, back to what we call the Holy Land. Our faith looks to actual people and events, to specific times and places: unless Jesus was born, died and rose again, not just as an idea, but there and then, our faith would be in vain.

So, of all the wars, famines, deaths and displacement of peoples that afflict so many sisters and brothers in our world today, we are anguished in a particular way by the horrors of what has been happening in the Holy Land. Violence has begotten more violence; and ordinary and defenceless people are being ground up in the unforgiving wheels of history, politics and the arms trade.

Our prayers for the victims of wars and for the miracle of peace can draw strength from pondering seriously what we declare in our Easter faith. God does not stand back and watch our mess and our suffering, but enters it fully in the person of the Son. He not only takes our suffering and sin on himself, but even death itself: and defeats them. His resurrection is not about God showing off his power. Because it happens in his human body, it opens the path through death, into fulness of life, for all of us.

Will we say yes?


+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst
Easter 2024

mckenna crest



Bishop Michael McKenna has made the following appointments:


Reverend Dong Van NGUYEN: Parish Priest of Cowra

Reverend Nam Dinh LE: Vocations Director for the Diocese of Bathurst


May the Good Shepherd bless their Ministry and many people through it.

Dear Friends in Christ,

During the worst days of the Covid pandemic, I announced an exemption for Catholics in our Diocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. With this note, I am now informing you that the exemption will expire this coming 4th Sunday of Lent (“Laetare Sunday”).

This Sunday obligation is a statement and reminder of the importance that the Church places on coming to Mass each week. As the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, “Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other…” (Hb 10:25)

I have often said that, if every Catholic realised what and who they are being offered in the Mass, we wouldn’t have enough churches to hold them. But for those who do come, it is not only about what they receive, but about what they give to others with their presence.

Coming to Mass is a way of making a public witness of our faith, as we stand with our brothers and sisters to meet Christ in the community that bears his name; in his Word; in the ministry of his priest; and in the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Yours in Christ,

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

LENT 2024

Recalled to renewal


Each year, the season of Lent recalls us to renewal: to recentre our lives in love of God and neighbour.

In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, Jesus shows us three ways we can answer this call.

First, with prayer. Most of us could spend more time in prayer: Lent reminds us to have another go at turning good intentions into reality.

Second, by going without some things we enjoy but don’t really need. It might be food or drink, or something else. And the money we save could go to the third way to answer the Lenten invitation.

Third, by giving time and money to those in need. Most people on our planet have far less than we do in terms of food, water and shelter: many are actually homeless and even starving. Project Compassion is a very practical way to give.

May Lent truly be a time of renewal for each of us.


+Michael McKenna

Bishop of Bathurst


Ash Wednesday 2024


Christmas is Personal

The painting I chose this year in our annual Christmas Story exhibition was by Zeke Stephenson from Dunedoo. It is about the light we need for this journey which is life. It came with a very personal commentary from the artist and reminds us that faith is not abstract, but personal.

In Australia, Christmas is a very public celebration, with both sacred and secular elements. We always hope that at least some of the good news about Jesus manages to find its way through the clatter of trade. Even for Christians, the joys and complications of family life can sometimes be overwhelming at this time of year.

“Personal” does not mean isolated. In fact, it is through my relationships that I come to know and grow who I am. At times, though, I need to return to what Jesus called “the private room” of my heart and recall that I am in the presence of God, “in whose light I see light.” (Psalm 36:9)

May light and peace be your greatest gifts this Christmas, to receive and pass on.

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

Artwork by Zeke Stephenson from Dunedoo


A Pastoral Letter to God’s People of the Diocese of Bathurst – 2023

Bishop Michael McKenna has written a Pastoral Letter to God’s People of the Diocese of Bathurst, titled “Alive and Active – Reading the Bible Together’.

In it, Bishop Michael talks about the Bible historically, in the present, and about what our exploration of it might hold for the future – and what that means for us as individuals and as a community of God’s people.

The Bishop says that while his Pastoral Letter barely touches on “the beauty and the power of God’s gift which is the Bible”, he hopes that it will leave us with more questions to explore.

You can read the Bishop’s Pastoral Letter for 2023 here.



Dear Friends in Christ,

For our Church, the new year does not begin on January 1st, but on the first Sunday of Advent. What do we hope for? And what do we promise ourselves to be and to do in this coming year?

At the end of last year, I invited everyone to watch and pray as the Pope’s Synod in Rome began to unfold. It has now had its first assembly; and invites the whole Church to reflect on the ideas that have come from that, as we prepare for the concluding session late in 2024.

We will attempt to pick up this developing work in our local church; and so revive the way of walking together (“synodality”) that we began in 2013, until Covid slowed us down for a while.

The themes for the Synod in Rome are ours, too: Participation; Communion; and Mission. They are interrelated, of course: but without participation, it’s hard to get started on communion and mission! As I wrote last year:

One of the struggles of our synodal journey so far…is that an ever-smaller number of people are shouldering the responsibilities that everyone should be sharing. Even the basic obligations of joining the parish community for Sunday Mass and supporting the parish financially are being neglected. And not enough people are ready, when able, to give time and talent for our works of Word, Worship and Service. Those happy few who do, cheerfully and generously, are already blessed and we thank God for them.

Finally, as we get ready to celebrate Christmas this year, our heartfelt prayers are for the suffering people, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, of the land where Jesus was born. May his justice bring forth his peace!


+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

Dear Friends in Christ,

When I am asked how Catholics should vote in the Referendum to be held on 14 October, my answer is “conscientiously.” I do not believe that bishops should, in our democracy, direct their people to vote one way or another in any election.

However, it is our duty to remind Catholics to take their responsibilities as voters seriously; and to help them inform and form their consciences. Whether you vote “yes” or “no” in the coming Referendum, it is important that you know what you are doing. Let your yes be a carefully considered yes, or your no be a carefully considered no. To think “I don’t know enough, and can’t be bothered finding out” is not a responsible option.

This year, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, in collaboration with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), published a statement entitled “Listen, Learn, Love”, about past issues and those we continue to deal with in the relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

I encourage you to read it at

I also encourage you to read the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart ( which sets out concisely and eloquently the aspirations for truth-telling, treaties and a voice. The Australian bishops, after listening to NATSICC, the voice we set up three decades ago to advise us, endorsed the Uluru statement more than two years ago. Last year, it was also endorsed by the Plenary Council.

Whichever decision you come to, whatever the result of the Referendum, I would ask you to respect those who take a different view. And I would hope that all of us, whichever way we vote, whatever the outcome, would recommit to healing the wounds of dispossession which have been passed on from generation to generation.

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am writing to ask your prayers for the coming Synod in Rome, whose first session will convene from 4th to 29th October.

Some people may have concerns about how it will go, but that is all the more reason to turn to God in prayer, seeking light and courage, especially for those whom the Pope has called to participate.

At the end of last year, I wrote the following in my pastoral letter on synodality: We have sometimes forgotten that the Church is a People on pilgrimage, walking together to the Kingdom of God, and we’re not there yet! We have sometimes not only rested, but even made ourselves so comfortable at stops along the way, that we have settled for the illusion of arrival and given up the awe-inspiring trek to the fulfilment that God is preparing for us.

Although we will not be in Rome, we should be united with the process in prayer before and during the Synod Assembly. Come, Holy Spirit! Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament is an especially fitting prayer, taking us out of our own concerns and focusing on Christ.

Whatever you and your community can do will enrich and bless the synodal process; and, in doing so, enrich and bless you and the Church to which we belong.

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

Easter Art Exhibition and Competition 2023

Bishop’s Award

In Vino Veritas

Poppy Wishart, Year 10


Do not be afraid the angel tells the women who have come to the empty tomb. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here. He has risen as he said he would!

Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” 

Life is calling them, calling us away from dead things. Love is calling them and us out of the tomb of our fears and despair. Will we go and see where he is coming to meet us?

Each Easter, we repeat the familiar rites. We come together and take simple things – fire and light – water and oil – bread and wine. This is beautifully echoed in the artwork by Poppy Wishart which I selected from our Easter Art Exhibition. We tell the great story again. We sing, we pray, we move together. We stand at the doorway of a mystery where past and present and future come together.

This mystery is our relationship with God. We don’t understand it fully now, but we can touch it and we can enter it.

This mystery is Jesus Christ, son of God and son of Mary. Two thousand years ago, his friends saw him die and then they met him after he rose from the dead, the same man but transformed. Their story has been handed on to us. It can become our story too, because Jesus is alive and we can meet him too, wherever Galilee may be for you or me.

The story has been handed on, not in words alone, but in the community of the Church and her sacraments. In Baptism we celebrate not just an outward ceremony: we receive faith and eternal life from God. For those who are baptized, the new creation has already begun.

Each Christian’s story of receiving forgiveness and a new beginning is their own. And, as each person’s story opens out to the life of God’s Kingdom, we discover, in the communion of saints, in the life of the Church, that it is one great story and it is ours.

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

LENT 2023

The Season of Lent is a journey to the celebration of Easter. Like all journeys, it can have its moments of difficulty and discomfort. We keep going because we hope to arrive at a destination better than the place where we started.

Pope Francis has drawn a comparison between the Lenten journey and the synodal journey that he has called the Church to follow. My own recent Pastoral Letter to you reflecting on the synodal path for our local church was entitled “Are We There Yet?” This was to acknowledge the weariness and the temptation to lose hope that a people on pilgrimage can experience.

We need the gift of patience from God, who is always patient with us, even when we grow impatient with him. We also pray for patience with one another, which St Augustine called the sacrifice of being Christian.

The individual and communal paths of conversion must intertwine during Lent if our journey is to arrive at the destination where God awaits. Let us never forget that we are travelling together; and that every day presents opportunities for simple, practical acts of love and forgiveness that can be our gift to one another.

+Michael McKenna

Bishop of Bathurst


The news of the death of Cardinal George Pell has reached me while on a pastoral pilgrimage to Vietnam.

Our relationship today with the Church in Vietnam builds on the friendship and cooperation that the then Archbishop Pell began a quarter of a century ago.

This evening, I will offer Mass here, with fellow pilgrims from Bathurst; and pray that George will rest in peace and rise in glory.

+Michael McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst

11 January 2023