A WHO'S who of the Catholic Church in Australia descended on Newcastle last night for the ordination of Father William Wright as the eighth Bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
More than two dozen priests and bishops, hundreds of parishioners and the head of the Catholic Church in Australia, Cardinal George Pell, packed the Sacred Heart Cathedral at Hamilton for a 2?-hour ceremony steeped in religious tradition.
Stepping down after 16 years as bishop, Michael Malone looked on as Cardinal Pell anointed Father Wright the new leader of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, instructing him to "preach the word of God with unfailing patience and sound teaching".
After accepting the pontifical ring and taking his place on the Bishop's chair, Bishop Wright rose to a thunderous applause from his new congregation and the ringing of the cathedral bells.
A small number of people holding placards staged a peaceful protest outside the cathedral in an effort to raise awareness for sexual abuse victims within the Catholic Church.