Monday, March 31, 2014

RIP BISHOP MICHAEL PUTNEY of Australia - Age 67 - "Ecumenical Giant"

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
28 Mar 2014
Bishop Putney at WYD2005
With great sadness the diocese of Townsville announced Bishop Michael Putney AM DD died peacefully in the early hours of Friday 28 March, aged 67 years old.
Hailed as "an ecumenical giant" Bishop Putney's work in Christian dialogue and ecumenical relations will be felt in Australia and internationally for many years to come. As tributes started pouring in on social media via the Diocese of Townsville's Facebook page, the National Council of Churches in Australia, for which Bishop Putney served as chairman posted:
"Bishop Michael was an ecumenical giant who contributed so much to his own church, the Australian churches and the wider ecumenical family. He inspired us to imagine what a healthy reconciled Church could be. May he rest in God's peace."
Sister Giovanni Farquer, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations, recognised the faith and commitment of Bishop Putney so evident in his ministry.
"He was a true ecumenist and an amazing chair of our committee" she said.
"He made us all feel that our work was making a significant contribution. Prayer was at the centre of every meeting he chaired and he was a man of great faith.  He provided great leadership and vision reaching out to people of all faiths, not just Catholics."
A native of Queensland, Michael Putney was born in Gladstone in 1946 and educated in Townsville and Brisbane. After seminary studies in Pius XII Seminary in Banyo, he was ordained a priest in 1969. He was ordained a bishop on 27 July 1995 and was announced as the 5th Bishop of Townsville in January 2001 and installed in March that year.
Most Rev. Michael Putney, Bishop of Tonwsville
Bishop Putney was diagnosed with terminal cancer in December 2012. Prior to his diagnosis he was a member of the Permanent Committee of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Chair of Bishops' Commission for Mission and Faith Formation; Catholic Co-Chairman of International Methodist / Roman Catholic Dialogue; Member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Chairman of the National Council of Churches.  In 2013 Bishop Putney was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
According to the Vicar General of Townsville Diocese, Fr Michael Lowcock, Bishop Putney was admitted to the Mater Hospital on Friday 21 March for a procedure relating to cancers in his stomach, he remained in hospital until he passed away peacefully in the early hours of the morning.
Bishop Putney's health had deteriorated in recent weeks but defying doctor's orders to slow down he still kept many appointments including welcoming the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher to his annual dinner with 170 guests and also publishing his book entitled "My Ecumenical Journey" which was launched by Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall.
Bishop Putney was grateful for the many prayers received during the past 15 months and believed it was these prayers which enabled him to continue his work until the very end.
Just last week in an interview with a local Townsville publication, an ailing Bishop Putney said he was at peace knowing his life was in the hands of God.
"I am very accepting of what happens to me and I am not in any way afraid.
"People's prayers are like the air I breathe and I am being carried along by the grace of God, so I have nothing to worry about'' he said.
As an auxiliary bishop of Brisbane and Vicar for Youth, Bishop Putney was a great supporter of young people says Malcolm Hart, Senior Youth Ministry Projects Officer for the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life.
"He revitalised the Church and particularly youth ministry through local initiatives, support and ongoing involvement in World Youth Days. Bishop Michael Putney will be sorely missed by his diocese and the Church in Australia."
Malcolm also acknowledges the contribution Bishop Putney made to evangelisation. "He was central to the Hearts on Fire conference in 1999, one of Australia's first national conferences on evangelisation" he says.  "He explored evangelisation in an Australian context like no one before."
Bishop Putney visiting a local Townsville school
Shayne Bennett, Moderator of the Emmanuel Community is grateful for the long association their lay community has had with Bishop Putney. In the early days of the Community's establishment a young Fr Michael Putney was appointed by the then Archbishop of Brisbane, Francis Rush as his liaison priest to the fledgling community. Years later, Shayne and Bishop Michael remained friends.
"Bishop Michael was a scholar, a wise mentor, a man who was passionate in his love for Jesus Christ and His Church" says Shayne Bennett.
"I saw the love he had for his Diocese blossom into something very beautiful. He loved Townsville and was joyful in laying down his life for the people whom God had entrusted to his care. He lived this commitment of love to the very end. May he rest in peace."                        
Throughout the day, the Facebook messages have continued to flood in. One member of the diocese wrote, "Bishop Michael was an inspiration to many and no one can deny what a truly beautiful person he was. He will be missed, and remembered by all those he touched. RIP"

Funeral arrangements are currently being finalised by the diocese and many parishes in the Townsville diocese will be holding special masses this week.

No comments: