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Dr Richard Treloar's young children play their part as Dad becomes a bishop

The consecration of Gippsland's new Bishop at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne is a family affair.

Bishop Richard Treloar, to the left of Archbishop Philip Freier, is joined by his children after his consecration. His wife, Dr Leanne Habeeb, is to the Archbishop's right.

PHOTO: Janine Eastgate

By Mark Brolly

July 23 2018 

Few episcopal consecrations feature two young children in prominent roles, but seven-year-old Rachel Treloar and her brother Nicholas (six) played their part as their father, Dr Richard Treloar, became a bishop at Melbourne's St Paul’s Cathedral on 21 July.

It wasn’t just that Rachel and Nicholas, assisted by their mother Dr Leanne Habeeb, presented their Dad – who is to become Gippsland’s 13th Anglican bishop next month – with his pectoral cross, which once belonged to the late Bishop John Hazlewood of Ballarat, who had ordained him a deacon and priest in the early 1990s. It was that Bishop Hazlewood’s successor, Bishop Garry Weatherill, opened his sermon by addressing the children and their mother directly.

“Rachel Treloar, would you put your hand up please?” Bishop Weatherill asked from the pulpit of St Paul’s. “And Nicholas Treloar, would you put your hand up please? And Leanne would you put your hand up please?

“Today, it might sound to you as if this is all about your Dad and husband but it’s actually all about you three as well. Maybe we should start by saying ‘Thank you’ to you, Leanne, and to you, Rachel and to you, Nicholas, for being here and letting your Dad be a bishop because I know you love him very much and I know he loves you very much. And we all love him very much as well. And that probably means that we all love you, too! And you’re going to find in your new home in Gippsland hundreds of people who are going to love you and be your friends for a very long time. So it’s a big special day for you as well as being a special day for your Dad.”

The family theme continued with the new bishop’s brother, the Revd Canon Peter Treloar, Assistant Chaplain at Ballarat Grammar School, delivering the Second Reading (2 Corinthians 5:14-20).

The threads of Bishop Treloar’s life – and his life and ministry to come in Gippsland – ran through the service, which was led by Melbourne’s Archbishop Philip Freier.

The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral was joined by that of Christ Church South Yarra, where Dr Treloar was Vicar for more than 11 years until last month. The locum at Christ Church, the Revd Paul Bower, and Associate Priest there, the Revd Jenny Nelson, handed Dr Freier the episcopal staff that was presented to Bishop Treloar as one of the symbols of his new office.

Gippsland Anglicans were also prominent at their new leader’s consecration. Ms Val Jones, a member of Bishop-in-Council from the Parish of Lakes Entrance and Metung, read the First Lesson from Isaiah, chapter 51 verses 1-4. Archdeacon Philip Muston, Administrator of Gippsland diocese, and the Revd Brian Norris, the diocesan Registrar, were among those presenting Dr Treloar for consecration. Diocesan Chancellor Ms Rowena Armstrong, QC, and former Deputy Premier Mr Robert Fordham, a member of Bishop-in-Council, presented the Bible that Archbishop Freier gave to Dr Treloar.

Two of Bishop Treloar’s predecessors in Gippsland, Bishop Jeffrey Driver (later Archbishop of Adelaide) and Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy (now Archbishop of Perth), were among the consecrating bishops.

Dr Treloar’s Spiritual Director, the Revd Patricia Bouma, and Emeritus Professor the Revd Gary Bouma gave the Archbishop the episcopal ring for the new bishop.

In his sermon, Bishop Weatherill said the first job of a bishop was to maintain the Church’s witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“And if that’s the only thing you do, Richard, that will be enough,” Bishop Weatherill said.

“There will be lots of other things... there’s a pile of stuff that [Archbishop] Philip will say is now Richard’s responsibility. You might, with me, think, ‘Good heavens, I don’t know anything about that, it’s too much!’ but we believe that somehow, in God’s economy, in God’s grace and a bit of a kicking from Leanne, Richard might be able to do about half those things. Well, you hope so!

“How do you do that task, Richard, in 21st century rural Victoria amongst the closed coal mines, with the struggling dairy communities, with the small, declining rural towns? There will be so many pressures on you that it might be easy to forget that you have to be like Mary Magdalene [whose feast day it was], a witness to the Resurrection, just as Peter [Treloar] read for us in that Second Lesson: ‘We are ambassadors for Christ and He can only make His appeal through us.’”

Bishop Weatherill listed five qualities that Bishop Treloar would need, one of which was that he would need to be joined by others in fulfilling his role as bishop in Gippsland.

“… If Richard is to be a good and faithful witness to the Resurrection in Gippsland, I think we are to do that task with him,” he said. “We need to develop new ears, we need to listen anew to the Word of God and listen anew to each other, expecting to be addressed by the Spirit of God in each other – and not just in the holy huddle of the Church. We should expect to be addressed by God from beyond the Church, from those who are stretching our understanding in ways that make us uncomfortable.

“So often in the Church today, our discussions are internal and endlessly circular. If we are going to be faithful witnesses to the Resurrection, we need to listen with new ears: what St Benedict calls ‘the ears of the heart’. To hear where the real needs of real people are. What are the things that make people hurt in Moe? What are the things that make life difficult in the High Country? Richard will be listening with new ears to you, but we all need to discover again how God speaks to us in unexpected places and in unexpected ways.”

Bishop Weatherill said the rescue of the 12 young Thai soccer players and their coach from a cave offered an example of new and unexpected things happening.

“We had a wonderful example of that recently… that sense of resurrection, where those 12 boys and their coach, trapped in the deep underground, were dragged through the deep waters of death to new life.

“On Thursday, Richard said, ‘I’m not sure about all this, it’s a bit too much’. ‘Don’t worry, Richard, be like those boys: We’ll make sure the aqua-lung is on…, we’ll sedate you a bit and drag you through the service.’”

Bishop Treloar will be installed as Bishop of Gippsland at another St Paul’s Cathedral – in Sale – on 18 August at 11am.