Bishop Bernard O'Grady
Bishop Bernard O'Grady, a member of the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers, OP) arrived in Pittwater Parish in January 2008 as the "Priest in residence", living in the Avalon Presbytery.
Bishop Bernard was born in Adelaide and educated there by the Dominican Sisters and the Christian Brothers. In 1950 he entered the Dominican Order and studied in Melbourne and Wahroonga, Sydney before being ordained in Adelaide on December 1st 1956. Following one year of further study in Wahroonga he was appointed in 1958 to the newly opened Dominican Mission in the then Western Solomons.
He worked in various parishes and was also Catholic Education Director for the Gizo Diocese which had been formally established in 1964. During this time many new schools were opened and he was awarded an MBE for educational service as well as development work within the Western Solomons.
In 1981 he was elected as Prior (Superior) of the Dominican Novitiate and Retreat House at Blackfriars in Canberra where he spent six years engaged in givng Retreats and Spiritual Direction.
Following another two years back in the Solomons, in 1989 he was appointed to the Dominican College part of the Holy Spirit National Seminary in Bomana Papua New Guinea. There he was engaged in priestly and religious formation and lecturing at the Seminary.
The first part of 1994 was spent working in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia at the Cross-Cultural Retreat Centreat Mirilinki (Turkey Creek). The later part of the year he joined a Domincan Parish Preaching Renewal Team for three months.
In May 1995 he was ordained Bishop of Gizo where he spent the next 12 years. During his time as Bishop he oversaw the Diocesan renewal program “We are Church” conducted with the assistance of the Movement for a Better World.
The major earthquake and tsunami that hit Gizo on Monday of Holy Week l2007 caused a great deal of damage within the Diocese and as Director of Caritas Solomon Islands Bishop Bernard was able to assist with the rehabilitation work that still continues and which has received generous support from Pittwater Parish.
While in Rome in June in 2007 to attend the Caritas Intenationalis Meeting, Bishop Bernard's resignation was accepted and his successor Bishop Luciano Capelli SDB was appointed by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Capelli was ordained as Bishop of Gizo on October 21st
Bishop Bernard then returned to Australia.
Bishop Bernard is living at Avalon as a retired priest but is very active in the Parish, saying Sunday and daily Masses and being available to the Maria Regina Primary School for Reconciliation and School Masses. In his retirement he can enjoy some of the activities unavalaible during his time in Gizo- visits from and to family and friends, often joining them to see a good film, watching Richmond play in the AFL (hoping for better times), and following his many other sporting interests such as cricket, tennis and cycling.
The Diocese of Gizo includes the Western and Choiseul Provinces of this far- flung country. It consists mainly of small islands whose people come from several different language and ethnic groups. Bishop Bernard spent close to 50 years in this beautiful but demanding tropical environment, where all travel must be by boat or (rarely) by plane, and where one cannot depend on reliable supplies of even the most basic commodities. Priests work hard side by side with their people, assisting with their physical as well as their spiritual needs, planning new churches, clinics and schools, planting gardens and ensuring that water supplies are available. The final year of Bishop Bernard's time as Bishop brought the destructive earthquake and tsunami which devastated most of the villages throughout the Diocese, sweeping away houses, boats, jetties, water tanks and gardens. Many people died and the Cathedral was so severely damaged that it could not be used. It has been knocked down and rebuilt.