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Tuesday, 30 November 2021 10:37

Former SVD Provincial appointed a bishop for Brisbane

CathNews Tim Norton SVD SuppliedPope Francis has announced that former Provincial of the SVD Australia Province, Fr Tim Norton SVD, will become an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Fr Tim, who has been in ministry in Italy, will early next year join Auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell in supporting Archbishop Mark Coleridge in serving the Catholics of Brisbane Archdiocese.

Born and raised in Sydney, Fr Tim made his first profession in 1986 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1991. He describes several years of religious formation and priestly ministry in Mexico as “very formative for him”.

“I used to work with drug addicts in Mexico City, and that became quite foundational for me,” he says.

“I also worked with Marriage Encounter, with people who were trying to hold their marriage and families together under extraordinarily difficult circumstances around employment, housing in the barrio – it was all so fragile.

“We started a regular Mass for the sick and elderly. You know, having sick people being brought to the Mass in wheelbarrows and on the back of relatives, people who were disabled or shut-ins, was extremely moving and once the parishioners got on board with that, they just started to support it and those sorts of things were enormously affirming that we were moving towards something where the Spirit is so very present. Those sorts of opportunities were fantastic, and they formed me into who I am.”

Fr Tim also spent time before and after ordination living and working with people in Sydney’s Cana Community who often live on the streets, struggling with mental illness and addiction. He trained as a physiotherapist before entering religious life, and he continues to see that as part of his ministry.

Tim Norton in Mexico 300“In my life there’s been a growing awareness that I’ve been attracted to be with people who are different to me. When I was in the seminary as a physiotherapist, I looked for and found a job in Pentridge Prison. I also worked at the Aboriginal Medical Service in Melbourne,” he said.

Since June 2020, Fr Tim, who speaks English, Spanish and Italian, has been working full-time with consecrated women and men promoting interculturality, something the Divine Word Missionaries and Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit are renowned for, including in Australia.

Fr Tim said ministry with multicultural parish communities is an important way the SVD is already involved in Brisbane Archdiocese. While head of the Australian province, he worked with Archbishop Coleridge to establish a Divine Word Missionary presence in two parishes.

“The SVD are active in the parishes of Inala and Kingston-Marsden, both very multicultural, and therefore places where the SVD confreres do their best work,” he said.

Fr Tim also worked with the local St Vincent de Paul Society in arranging for one of the SVD’s properties in Brisbane to serve as a shelter for people fleeing abusive relationships.

In almost 40 years of ministry, Fr Tim has also held key roles in Divine Word Missionary seminaries and has spent most of the past eight years in Nemi, near Rome, running renewal programs for priests and brothers.

Fr Tim said he would bring to his ministry in Brisbane “an intense interest in culture, and the mission of God in the world, whatever shape or form that may take”.

“One of my hopes is that I can find a space within the Archdiocese where I can feel at home and that usually involves relationships with people and that a number of those relationships will be with people who are very different to me,” he said.

“I’d look for a space where I can have spiritual conversations with people from different places, with this whole understanding of the Spirit acting in us through culture.

“I would hope I would be a person who could bring people together and I would hope I could bring mission and culture in ways I have come to understand it into my ministry in the Archdiocese.”

Archbishop Coleridge said Fr Tim “brings to the ministry of bishop many gifts and experiences required now more than ever as the whole Church seeks to become more missionary”.

“He will make a real contribution not only locally in Brisbane and Queensland but also nationally and internationally,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

The date for Fr Tim’s ordination to the episcopate is not yet known, but it will likely be in February 2022.


TOP RIGHT: Bishop-Elect Tim Norton SVD.

BOTTOM LEFT: A younger Fr Tim pictured on mission in Mexico.