Pope Francis has appointed Father Michael Gielen from the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton as the new Auxiliary Bishop for Auckland.
The appointment was announced in Rome at midnight New Zealand time.
Ordained as a priest in 1997, Bishop-elect Gielen served parishes in Gisborne, Hamilton and the western Bay of Plenty before becoming Director of Formation at the Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland in 2014, helping to train new priests.
In his new role, he will assist the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn. The Diocese of Auckland has almost 40 per cent of New Zealand’s 471,000 Catholics.
“I will bring a 21st Century vision of the Church to my role,” says Bishop-elect Gielen. “That is the Church that I know.”
Bishop Dunn says he is thrilled by the appointment and knows that the new Bishop-elect – who is already well known in the diocese – will be warmly welcomed by priests and lay people alike.
Cambridge-born Bishop-elect Gielen (48) is the son of Henk and Maureen Gielen of Mount Maunganui, and is the eldest of six children. He is a keen sportsman and enjoys cricket, rugby, cycling and golf.
“I am humbled by the appointment, because my whole priestly ministry has been during the time of our present bishops. My first thought was a feeling of unworthiness to stand in the shadow of these people in such a role.
“I now accept this new call in God’s service, aware of my need for God’s help, with thankfulness for this opportunity to serve alongside the people of the Diocese of Auckland.”
Bishop-elect Gielen will continue his work at Holy Cross Seminary until arrangements are made to replace him. His episcopal ordination will be on Saturday 7 March at 11.30 am in the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph in Auckland City.