Pirie Bishop Greg O'Kelly farewelled by students at St Mark's College

FAREWELL: Bishop Greg O'Kelly, centre, with the little Archbishops from St Mark's College. Students and teachers from Catholic schools across the diocese said their goodbyes to the Bishop today as he enters retirement.
FAREWELL: Bishop Greg O'Kelly, centre, with the little Archbishops from St Mark's College. Students and teachers from Catholic schools across the diocese said their goodbyes to the Bishop today as he enters retirement.
GIVE THANKS: Bishop Greg O'Kelly, centre, and Catholic Education Diocese of Port Pirie director Nichii Mardon, right, with the Principals from 13 Catholic Schools across the Diocese of Port Pirie.

GIVE THANKS: Bishop Greg O'Kelly, centre, and Catholic Education Diocese of Port Pirie director Nichii Mardon, right, with the Principals from 13 Catholic Schools across the Diocese of Port Pirie.

Bishop Greg O'Kelly gave thanks and a final goodbye today, to the Diocesan schools he has served for the past 11 years.

Representatives from 13 Catholic schools across the Diocese of Port Pirie gathered at St Mark's College to farewell the Bishop as he heads into retirement.

"I feel humbled that people have gone to such efforts and it is very moving," he said.

"The relationships, the way people share their life with you, the way they open up and talk to you about themselves and that you can make a bit of a difference in their lives and with God's grace you can do something like that.

"I will miss them all. To die is to part a little, so I mean you mix your life with the communities and there are about 58 communities in the Port Pirie Diocese."

When asked what he plans to do in his retirement, Bishop O'Kelly said "it's a little bit over due."

"I have got some sleeping in to catch up with and I will be going down to join the community of Jesuit's in Adelaide," he said.

As a final message to the Diocese of Port Pirie, Bishop O'Kelly said: "It would be that they welcome their new Bishop with the love and welcome that they have given me."

"That they support him and together they be something of a compassion of Christ in this Diocese where there are all sorts of needs," he said.

St Mark's College Principal Greg Hay said that was a great honour to host the Bishop's farewell.

"Bishop Greg means a great deal to thousands of people and our college was able to host an opportunity to say thank you," he said.

"It was an opportunity to reflect on his service and his generosity and his graciousness, the beautiful manner in which he connects with us, so we were very proud to have him today.

"There was a beautiful dignity and a deep sense of sadness and honour. We had the little ones sitting at the front that were shuffling after about 50 minutes, but I know that the Bishop means so much to all of us.

"It was a great ceremony and people had a great chance to speak. We had the voice of parents, students, principals, and the voice of teachers all saying thank you."

When asked what his parting message is to Bishop O'Kelly, Mr Hay said: "We will always remember a man of deep graciousness, a beautiful scholar, a man who was humble and generous.

"I will remember that he made me laugh and he said 'listen to your heart and be all you can be', so I will remember that with deep gratitude."

Catholic Education Diocese of Port Pirie director Nichii Mardon said the day presented the opportunity for Catholic schools to come together, say thank you, congratulations and best wishes to Bishop O'Kelly.

"It's been beautiful because students have been at the heart of it. Greg is an educator himself and he comes from a background of education, so for him it's a significant occasion," she said.

"Because of the nature of Bishop Greg O'Kelly, who he is, he is so personable and he has traversed the Dioceses so frequently he knows them deeply.

"Every child and every staff member knows and has respect for Bishop Greg O'Kelly.

"We are really looking forward to welcoming and learning from and with and alongside Bishop Karol when he arrives."

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