Bishop Christopher Prowse, of Sale, was appointed by Pope Francis on 12 September as the Archdiocese’s seventh Archbishop. He will be installed at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra on Tuesday, 19 November.
On behalf of the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese, Archdiocesan Administrator Mgr John Woods welcomed the appointment by Pope Francis with “joy and gratitude to God”.
“We pray for Archbishop-Elect Christopher Prowse as we look forward to his installation,” he said. “May his pastoral ministry in Christ’s name engage all the faithful of the Archdiocese, other Christians, adherents to other religions and all people of good will.”
Bishop Prowse, who will turn 60 only days before his installation, has been Bishop of Sale since mid-2009.
Ordained to the priesthood in August 1980, he served in a number of parishes around Melbourne before he was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in May 2003. He was elected to the permanent committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in May this year and chairs the Bishops’ Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations. Born in East Melbourne, the third of six children, Bishop Prowse was educated at St Francis Xavier Primary School and was captain of St Leo’s College in Box Hill. After attaining degrees in arts and theology, he completed a doctorate of moral theology.
His father, Frank, played for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League and Bishop Prowse remains a Hawks supporter.
The Archdiocese has been vacant since the transfer of Archbishop Mark Coleridge to Brisbane on 2 April, 2012.
You have been waiting patiently for the Holy Father to send you a new Archbishop. Your beloved Archbishop Mark Coleridge was transferred to the Archdiocese of Brisbane about 18 months ago. Thank you for your prayerful watchfulness and intercession.
To my great surprise, His Holiness, Pope Francis, has appointed me as your 11th Archbishop of Canberra & Goulburn. I thank the Holy Father for his trust and confidence in me to be your new Archbishop.
Totally relying on the Lord Jesus’ grace and mercy, I accept humbly and wholeheartedly this appointment.
It happens in the Year of Faith. May this appointment be seen as a way of strengthening our faith in Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
I come to you as a simple pilgrim in Christ. We are largely unknown to each other. Yet, already we know each other in a certain way by the bonds that unite us together in our Catholic faith. We have much time ahead to “encourage one other and build up each other” (1Thess.5/11).
The work of evangelization will continue afresh in the Archdiocese. Already you have done much. Let us gather even closer to God’s favorites: the poor and marginalized. There is a sense of urgency in the mission that still awaits us. Let us place again Jesus at the very center of this mission right now.
Until I am installed as your new Archbishop and thereafter, may I ask you most sincerely to pray for me. I have need of your prayer support.
May Jesus bless you, your families, and loved ones.
Bishop Christopher Prowse
Bishop Christopher Charles Prowse was born in East Melbourne on 14 November 1953. He is the third of the six children of Frank Prowse and Marian Atkinson (both deceased).
His early education was at St Francis Xavier Primary School, Box Hill and St Leo’s College, Box Hill.
He was an Altar Server at St Francis Xavier Parish, Box Hill. While at St Leo’s College he enjoyed drama and public speaking, and he was the School Captain in 1971.
He studied for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Werribee (1972) and Clayton (1973-1980). He was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Melbourne by Archbishop Sir Frank Little in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 16 August 1980.
Christopher Prowse has a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Monash 1978), a Bachelor of Theology (MCD 1979), a Licentiate in Moral Theology (Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1987), and a Doctorate in Moral Theology (Pontifical Lateran University – Alfonsianum Academy, Rome 1995).
After serving as a Deacon at St John’s, Mitcham in 1979, he was appointed Assistant Priest of St Mary of the Angels, Geelong (1981-83), and of St Monica’s, Moonee Ponds (1984-85). He was also Vocations’ Director throughout 1984-85.
From 1988 and 2001 he was Lecturer in Moral Theology at the Catholic Theological College, and from 1988 he was Priest in Residence at St Mary’s Thornbury. In 1996, he was appointed Parish Priest of Holy Spirit Parish, East Thornbury.
Other appointments during this period included Director of the Catholic Pastoral Formation Centre (1997-2001), and from 1999 he was the Media Spokesman.
In August 2001 he was named Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, after a short appointment as Assistant to the Diocesan Administrator. At this time he became a Member of the College of Consultors of the Archdiocese, and of other major committees.
On 6 October 2001 he was appointed a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor.
On 4 April 2003, Blessed Pope John Paul II named him Titular Bishop of Bahanna and Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne; he was consecrated in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 19 May 2003, and then given pastoral responsibility for the Southern Region of Melbourne.
From 2007 until 2009 he had pastoral responsibility for the Western Region of Melbourne and Geelong. In 2007 he became the Episcopal Vicar for Justice and Social Services and in 2008 for Health. He was appointed to key committees organizing Days in the Diocese, Melbourne and World Youth Day, Sydney.
He has been Co-Chair of the Australian Anglican and Roman Catholic (AUSTARC) Dialogue, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania.
In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him a Member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and on 18 June 2009 the same Pontiff named him Bishop of Sale.
Within the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Prowse is a Member of the Permanent Committee and Chairman of the Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Relations; he is also a Member of the Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.
On 12 September 2013, Pope Francis appointed him Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.
On 27 February 2014, the Pope appointed him as a Consultor to the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. This Commission is institutionally linked to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.