THE Bishop of Sandhurst Joseph Grech was laid to rest in a crypt underneath Bendigo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday, after more than 4000 people attended his funeral.
Bishop Grech, 62, died suddenly on December 28 from a blood disorder.
The hymn Here I Am Lord filled the cathedral as principal celebrant Archbishop George Cardinal Pell led 32 bishops and 176 priests from across Australia down the aisle of the cathedral.
The cathedral was packed with Bishop Grech’s family, including his brother Carmel Grech and sister Rosette Saliba from Malta, friends, the catholic community from the Sandhurst Diocese and beyond, a large contingent from the Maltese community and dignitaries.
Bishop Grech’s funeral marked 40 years to the day that he arrived in Australia from Malta.
The High Commissioner of Malta Francis Tabone spoke about Bishop Grech’s jovial personality, and said that although people were saddened by his loss, they could be comforted by the work he had done to help people.
Apostolic Nuncio Most Reverend Giuseppe Lazzarotto read out a message from Pope Benedict XVI, and Administrator of the Sandhurst Diocese Monsignor Frank Marriott welcomed mourners to the cathedral to farewell the man they knew as “Bishop Joe”.
Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge, who gave the homily, spoke about Bishop Grech’s death, in the days after Christians were celebrating the birth of Jesus.
“Joe decided to stay here for life, and what a gain for us that was,” he said.
Archbishop Coleridge said Bishop Grech was “boldly charismatic” and often underestimated.
He said Bishop Grech brought faith, humanity and simplicity to the Diocese of Sandhurst and was a preacher and teacher to people across the world.
“The boy from Malta had come a long way,” he said.
“Bishop Joe’s death will be greatly remembered around the world because he was such a servant of the international church.”
The Sacred Heart Choir sang fitting hymns for the two-hour Mass, which was followed by a reception at the Marian Centre, at Catholic College Bendigo.
Source: Bendigo Advertiser