Fr Michael Dooley new Dunedin Bishop


Pope Francis has appointed Father Michael Dooley the seventh Catholic Bishop of the Dunedin Diocese.

He says the appointment came as a shock.

But he says he has eased into the role after receiving much support.

Dooley succeeds Bishop Colin Campbell, who has retired after 14 years in the role.

After at first feeling a ‘bit sick’ at the news, Dooley says he then thought that, no,  it was the church’s choice.

Dooley’s new role means he is in charge of the whole Otago-Southland region.

His was one of three names sent to Rome for consideration for the appointment.

Pope France appointed him.

None of the three was aware that they were under consideration.

”It sounds a bit strange, but it’s done to stop lobbying. ‘It’s a historical thing,’ Dooley says, to stop lobbying.

Life before Bishop

Born in Invercargill, the 56-year-old was ordained a priest in 1989.

Dooley completed an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner before studying for a bachelor of theology degree at the University of Otago.

He earned a master of theology in Melbourne.

His first thoughts of a vocation after a priest suggested he attend a retreat for young men interested in the priesthood.

”I sort of resisted, but I went to the retreat,” he says.

He says he had no confidence in public speaking. ”I didn’t think I was a suitable candidate at all,” he says.

”In the engineering workshop you didn’t need to do too much public speaking.”

A few years back, Dooley offered land behind St Peter Chanel parish in Green Island, south Dunedin,  to be used for a community garden.

He described the land as a “blank canvas” for the community to establish its garden.

Dooley describes numbers in the Dunedin diocese as static but he says church is in good health.

He says immigrants from countries like the Philippines and India are bolstering numbers.

He relates to Pope Francis’ view of the church and its place in the world.

”Rather than being a fortress mentality, it’s an idea of engaging with the world.”


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