Catholic residents in the Riverina have been waiting two years for a new bishop, however “hope exists” that an announcement will be made before Christmas.
Griffith and the MIA forms a large part of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga.
Bishop Gerard Hanna last held the post of diocese bishop until his retirement in September 2016.
Father Andrew Grace from the Sacred Heart Parish in Griffith remains “hopeful” the wait for a new bishop will soon be over.
Fr Grace, who has been acting as a consultant to the Archbishop currently looking after the diocese’s needs.
He said while the two-year wait may seem like a long time it is not uncommon – with Townsville having endured a three year wait before a new Bishop was appointed.
“We are starting to get to the stage where I’d be surprised if we do get that announcement, however, seeing it is now November, I think my hope is quite unfounded,” Fr Grace said.
In the absence of the diocese bishop, Archbishop Christopher Prowse in Canberra has taken on care of the diocese as apostolic minister, with parish priests given the authority to officiate ceremonies such as first holy communions and confirmations.
“People have been very understanding of the process, and we just want to let them know everything is running smoothly while the bishop is being selected,” Fr Grace said.
The process of choosing a bishop involves the nuncio, a papal ambassador, who looks at recommendations of priests made by bishops and selects three candidates to send to Rome.
It’s up to the Pope to have the final say on who is chosen, and it is then up to the priest to either accept or decline.
Many in the diocese believe that an offer of bishop has already been made and declined, however Fr Grace said these rumours could not be confirmed.
“The nuncio is looking for what we need as a diocese – a really good dynamic scholar, or a great pastoral priest with people skills, factoring in the rural aspect of the Riverina, especially with the farmers in drought at the moment,” Fr Grace explained.
“We have prayed and will continue to pray that we get a good, holy and courageous bishop.”