In 2008, Bishop Michael Malone, then Catholic Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Bishop David Walker of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay and Bishop Brian Farran of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle publicly signed a Covenant pledging their Churches to pray, minister and worship together where possible.
Click here to view a copy of the original Tri-Diocesan Covenant.
That agreement has been renewed annually and the Covenant commits the three dioceses to many positive and beneficial opportunities and communications, such as:
- an annual Episcopal dialogue between the respective Anglican and Catholic Bishops.
- an annual Joint Clergy Day for the clergy of the three dioceses to come together to reflect on pastoral, social or theological issues.
- an annual Service of Reconciliation to focus on the restoration and growth of relationships between the Roman Catholic and Anglican Communions.
- an annual exchange of pulpits at an Ecumenical Service by the respective Anglican and Catholic Bishops.
- a twice-yearly meeting of the Ecumenical Commissions and Bishops of the three dioceses.
In 2012, a new dimension was added to the Covenant when the three bishops decreed that their local communities will partner to sponsor Pastoral Care Workers (as they are called in Catholic schools) and School Chaplains in schools throughout the Central Coast, Hunter and Northern Regions.
These Pastoral Care Workers / School Chaplains are employed to offer pastoral care, general spiritual guidance and social and emotional support under the provisions of the National Schools Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program.
This support enables the Churches to continue their proud tradition of providing additional pastoral care to students within their communities, particularly those in regional and remote areas. It adds a very worthy dimension to the Covenant that exists across the Newcastle, Central Coast, Hunter and Manning regions, and enables further sharing of resources, expertise and care.
According to the terms of the Pastoral Care Partnership, the three dioceses will serve school communities and families by recruiting, training and supporting Pastoral Care Workers/School Chaplains.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Bill Wright said “it is our prayer that through this ministry, students, their families and school staffs will come to experience the loving compassion of Jesus Christ: a message of Christian care and service rather than a message of belief or conversion.”