A South Sudanese choir burst into impromptu song as newly installed Anglican Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn Dr Mark Short emerged from Saint Saviour's Cathedral on Saturday.
The choir, representing the South Sudanese Anglican Ministry, had travelled especially from Ginninderra, ACT for the historic occasion. Members of Wagga Wagga's Sudanese community also made a special trip, honouring their former Archdeacon.
In what was thought to be a first, an Aboriginal leader, Bush Church Aid Society indigenous ministry officer The Reverend Neville Naden preached at an Anglican Bishop's consecration.
The service, preceded by the sounding of Saint Saviour's bells across Goulburn, united all colours, creeds and abilities.
Dr Short was installed and consecrated as Canberra/Goulburn diocese's 11th Bishop at the service, which drew up to 1200 people from across the country.
His wife, Monica, and adult sons Matthew and Andrew looked on proudly from a front pew, taking photos and later receiving Communion from the new Bishop.
"I'm very proud of him. He loves God, loves people and he's a very kind person," Mrs Short said after the service.
Dr Short was the centre of attention as 21 Bishops from across Australia, clergy from Canberra/Goulburn and other dioceses and those representing numerous religions, united for the three-hour ceremony.
Archbishop of Sydney and NSW Metropolitan, The Most Reverend Dr Glenn Davies led the service. The Primate and Archbishop of Brisbane, Philip Freier and Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall, also attended.
Dr Short was accompanied to the Cathedral's Great West Door by members of the Bush Church Aid Society, of which he had been national director for the past seven and a half years. He was presented to Dean of Saint Saviour's Cathedral, The Very Reverend Phillip Saunders.
The cathedral was filled to capacity for the long procession of clergy who entered to the lofty sounds of a choir in full voice.
During his sermon, The Reverend Naden said the diocese was celebrating the beginning of a new chapter.
But he said his own group, the Bush Church Aid Society (BCAS), was "grieving."
"We knew our Mark was destined for greater things in the church of God," he said.
"...You have been a blessing to so many and no doubt you will continue to be a blessing as you take on your new role."
Dr Short's former position saw him crisscross the country, coordinating ministries for regional and remote communities.
The Reverend Naden told The Post that his friend stood out as a leader from the start.
"Mark is the sort of operator who can exercise authority but with grace and do it in such a way that when you're being disciplined, you don't know it," he said.
"He's the sort of guy who comes across as non-threatening, is open to having conversations and is able to portray goodness."
Dr Short had been instrumental in prompting the BCAS to think about Aboriginal ministry.
"I'm very pleased for and proud of him," The Reverend Naden said.
Auntie Jean Phillips, the most senior Aboriginal christian leader in Australia, made a special trip from Brisbane to witness the consecration. She knew Dr Short from his time in Sydney. She was accompanied by The Reverend Alexandra Gater, the first Aboriginal woman in Queensland to become an Anglican Minister.
The installation was a mix of reverence and good humour, imbued with a sense of community.
Andrew and Matthew Short presented their father with the pectoral cross belonging to the the seventh Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn, The Right Reverend Cecil Warren, now 95 and living in retirement in Toowoomba.
Dr Davies gave him the Bible, while Bishop Trevor Edwards, the administrator of the Canberra/Goulburn diocese since last April, inducted Dr Short and presented him with the Bishop's staff.
Speaking on behalf of the council and Goulburn Mulwaree citizens, Mayor Bob Kirk said the city and diocese were "inextricably linked" by virtue of Queen Victoria's Royal Letters Patent. They not only created the diocese but also gave Goulburn its city status.
"It's a great honour and privilege to welcome you," he told Dr Short.
Other speakers included the Catholic Archbishop of Canberra/Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, Liberal Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja, Mark Le Couteur, on behalf of lay people and The Reverend Caroline Campbell who spoke for the clergy.
The now Right Reverend Short said he was acutely aware of and grateful for the role so many people had played in his life.
"It's often said that it takes a village to raise a single human life," he told the congregation.
"Monica and I are so aware of the contribution so many of you have made to our lives. You have shaped us in so many ways."
"...I look forward to meeting you on the journey ahead...Let the adventure begin."
After the service, Dr Short said he had been honoured and humbled to have so many people praying for his ministry.
He has cited openness, listening and attentiveness as his key approaches.
The Very Reverend Saunders said Bishop Short's wide experience within the church and love of Goulburn and the Cathedral would be of great benefit.
The new Bishop will celebrate Easter week services in Goulburn.
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