South Yarra farewells its Vicar, bound for Gippsland as Bishop

The Revd Dr Richard Treloar and his family begin transition from inner-city parish life to ministry in eastern Victoria.

Gippsland's Bishop-elect Richard Treloar was joined by his children Rachel (not pictured here) and Nicholas as he left Christ Church South Yarra after his final Sunday Eucharist as Vicar there.

By Mark Brolly

June 28 2018 

The Revd Dr Richard Treloar celebrated his last Sunday Eucharist as Vicar of Christ Church South Yarra on 24 June as he prepared to be consecrated a bishop in July and to assume leadership of the Gippsland diocese in August.

The historic church on the corner of Punt and Toorak roads was full to celebrate the Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist and to farewell Bishop-elect Treloar, his wife Dr Leanne Habeeb and their young children, Rachel and Nicholas, after Dr Treloar’s more than 11 years as Vicar and as President of the adjoining Christ Church Grammar School.

Christ Church has commissioned a local artisan to make a bishop’s crozier from the same wood as its altar, a gift Dr Treloar described as “a precious and tangible reminder of your generosity and companionship around this table”.

The parish choir was joined by musicians from Trinity College at Melbourne University and the former Canterbury Fellowship, while South Yarra parish’s covenant partner, St Martin’s Hawksburn, was represented in the nave and sanctuary. Visitors from Dr Treloar’s former places of ministry also attended the service.

In his sermon, Dr Treloar said: “Could I pick any day on the Church’s calendar on which to take leave of you, this feast of the Birth of John the Baptist would be right in the mix, for it reminds us of our essential identity and calling as Christ’s Church: to be a baptising community; raising up and exercising baptismal ministry, lay and ordained.”

He said that John the Baptist's individual calling was also a collective one for Christians, “a call to live prophetically; to prepare the way for Christ, including by baptising new members into his body; and to make known God’s grace – the divine hospitality – to all people”.

Christ Church had long stood as a testament to a vision of radical inclusion, he said, which was none other than the way of Christ – “a way made straight by John the Baptist, and by each of us”.

“For as much as I’ll miss the view from this pulpit, it’s the view from the altar that I’ll miss the most: the view of the world beyond those glass doors, the world God so loves, which reminds us of who all this is really for.

“What an enormous privilege; what an immense responsibility; what a priceless vocation we share in the waters of baptism.

“For that, as for so much else, ‘Laus Deo’ (‘Praise be to God’).”

Authorised Lay Minister Mr Jamie Miller proposed a Vote of Thanks for Dr Treloar on behalf of the parish and also paid tribute to Dr Habeeb.

“Leanne, thank you for sharing your beloved Richard with us all these years,” Mr Miller said. “There must have been many nights when Richard has been spirited away by parish or school meetings, many more nights when he arrived home simply too exhausted to help with family meal and children’s bath times. For all those times, Leanne we want to say thank you for sharing Richard with us.

“Thank you also Leanne for your quiet generous presence among us. Many of us have appreciated your generosity and wisdom. We have valued your contributions on many levels but none more so than your support of Richard in his role as our Vicar.

“Like many of us, I remember well that Sunday morning in 2011 when Richard shared with us news that you two were expecting a baby. Richard, you told us that you felt a bit like Abraham and Sarah must have felt when God told Abraham that he was to have a child.   Well I’ve been reflecting on that comment of yours. You have both indeed been blessed by God. Like Abraham, you have been blessed by God so that you can be a blessing to others. And what a blessing you have been to us!   How fortunate the people of Gippsland are to experience that blessing which you will now take to them.”

Mr Miller said Dr Treloar had modelled Christ in his life and work, had enabled all in the parish to experience God in fine liturgy and in their lives, and had left the parish as strong, viable and growing.

“You have led us to be a loving and inclusive community of faith,” he said. “Christ Church under your leadership has become a safe and welcoming community to all who cross our threshold regardless of age, ethnic origin, colour, gender or sexuality.

“We will miss you enormously – both as friend and pastor – but there is also a sense in which we feel we have played a small part, a very small part, in God’s call to you to take up your pastoral staff as Bishop of Gippsland.”

  • Dr Treloar will be consecrated bishop in St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne on Saturday 21 July at 10.30am and installed as Bishop of Gippsland in St Paul's Cathedral Sale on Saturday 18 August at 11am.