New auxiliary bishop of Sydney a NZ born Opus Dei priest

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Richard Umbers to be an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Originally from Papatoetoe in Auckland, New Zealand  Umbers was ordained a priest by Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei. He has served as a priest in Sydney for the past 13 years.

Umbers is one of two new auxiliary bishops appointed in the Archdiocese of Sydney. The other one is Monsignor Anthony Randazzo. He was born in Sydney but is a member of the Queensland presbyterate.

In his recent Letter from Rome Robert Mickens points out that neither the Catholics people or the nor priests of Sydney had any say about the new auxiliary bishops.

“By all accounts, most of them are not happy that these “outsiders” (that is, not members of the Sydney presbyterate) were foisted on them,” he says.

“Fr Umbers… was born and grew up in another country – New Zealand. But he went to university in Sydney in the early 1990s and has been living fulltime in the city since 2002.”

Umbers is priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei. He originally studied management at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. In 1992 he transferred to the University of Sydney. He did this so that he could  receive more intense formation at a Centre of Opus Dei in Chatswood, Sydney.

He qualified with a Bachelor of Economics from University of Sydney and a Masters of Management from the University of Waikato.

He has been chaplain of several educational initiatives including Warrane College and Creston College, residential colleges affiliated with The University of New South Wales, and Redfield College, a school of the PARED Foundation.

Randazzo was actually born in Sydney, but he grew up near Brisbane. He’s been a priest of the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1991.

He is currently an assistant to Archbishop Mark Coleridge at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane. He is also judge of the National Appeal Tribunal of the Catholic Church of Australia and New Zealand.

He was until recently the Rector of the Queensland Seminary. During his seven years in that role (and as Director of Vocations) Brisbane saw a resurgence of vocations and 27 new priests ordained.

Before that he undertook post-graduate studies in canon law, was Pastor of Regina Caeli Parish in Coorparoo Heights, and then worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome.

“Cardinal Pell’s fingerprints are all over these appointments, just as they were all over the appointment of his successor, [Archbishop Fisher]” says Mickens. “Why Francis allows this, to a cardinal who has been opposed or impassive to just about all the pope does except in the financial reform sector, is mind boggling.”

“But even more unacceptable is that the 75-year-old Australian is still head of the Vox Clara Committee (which is supposed to consist of residential bishops, not those in the Roman Curia). And, of course, how does one explain that he is also a member of the pope’s privy council of cardinal advisors (C9)?”

“The only consolation is that maxim the pope likes to repeat, ‘Time is greater than space.'”

“Both of these men [auxiliary bishops] are going to be around for a long, long time.” says Mickens.

“Mgr Randazzo is only 49 years old. And Fr Umbers, at 45, is even younger. Archbishop Fisher, though he is still struggling to overcome a major health setback, is not exactly an old man. He’s only 56, which gives him another nineteen years until the canonical retirement age.”

The Episcopal ordination of Monsignor Anthony Randazzo and Fr Richard Umbers will take place at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney on Wednesday 24 August 2016.


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News category: New Zealand.

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