+ Joseph Grech - Sandhurst
10th December 1948 - 27th December 2010
The Most Reverend Joseph Angelo Grech, much loved Bishop of the Sandhurst Diocese died yesterday at St Vincent’s hospital Melbourne after the recurrence of a blood disorder. He was aged 62.
Appointed as the sixth Bishop of the Sandhurst Diocese in 2001, the Most Reverend Joseph Grech has been a Bishop of the people, loved by young and old. This generous, warm and passionate man of God will be remembered as a great leader of the Catholic community of Sandhurst, of Australia and internationally. He was a friend to all.
Monsignor Marriott who was at his bedside when he died recalled his great love for young people. Monsignor said “Bishop Joe had a famous saying for young people – ‘God doesn’t make rubbish – there is good in each of us and we have to find it’.
Bishop Joseph Grech was born in Malta on December 10 1948. After completing the first four years of studies for the priesthood in Malta, he arrived in Australia in 1971. He completed his last four years of studies at Corpus Christi College in Melbourne and was ordained a priest in 1974. In 1999 Bishop Joseph was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne prior to his appointment as Bishop of Sandhurst Diocese on April 27 2001.
At the time of his death Bishop Joseph was a member of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life with special oversight for the pastoral care of Migrants and Refugees. He was recently appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants. Within the Commission for Pastoral Life Bishop Joe was also responsible on behalf of the Bishops of Australia for Youth Ministry. He was also a member of the Bishops Commission for Mission and Adult Faith Formation with particular responsibilities regarding Catholic Missions. Bishop Joe was also a member of the International Catholic Charismatic Council representing Oceania. He was a much sought after international speaker with particular commitment to the Charismatic Renewal Movement, Priests’ Retreats and to Young People.
Bishop Joe was very committed to the priests and people of the Sandhurst Diocese. He was always available for his people – he led Scripture workshops, visited schools and parishes regularly and knew the students well – they all loved him! Bishop Joe led the Stronger Retreat for Young People in Echuca recently – he was thrilled with it. Phil Billington, Director of Catholic Education paid tribute to Bishop Joe’s passion for young people and for our Catholic schools – “he loved the students, knew so many by name and was always interested in the staff and their families – he had an enormous capacity for love. We were privileged to have this wonderful man as our Bishop and we will grieve deeply for him”.
He was the spiritual leader of the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and in the Footsteps of St Paul – the fifty pilgrims feel very privileged to have shared this precious time with him recently.
St Kilian’s Parish Administrator, Fr Rom Hayes said Bishop Joe wasn’t one to stand on ceremony and that says a lot about the sort of man he was – “He was known as Bishop Joe and that’s what he liked to be called.” Fr Rom recalled that “he was thoughtful, outgoing and very concerned for people. He poured himself into his work and never backed off. I’ll remember him as warm and caring and passionate about the things he believed in”.
Bishop Joe was well known across the Diocese, not only in the Catholic community. He was a prominent leader in Bendigo and was also well known in Australian diplomatic circles. He was respected by all with whom he came into contact.
Bishop Joe was proud of his Maltese heritage and equally proud to be an Australian, the wonderful blend of these cultures manifested in the character of this truly great man. He was very close to his sister and brother and Aunty Mary who still live in Malta – he would visit them each year. His Aunt Tess and Uncle Jim who live in Australia were like parents to him – they were at his side when he died.
The Diocese and Church of Australia will grieve for this warm and loving man of God for a very long time but his legacy of love for Jesus and passion for humanity will live on in our hearts and in our lives.
MAY HE REST IN PEACE
Media Release, Sandhurst Diocese