Bishop Barbara Darling honoured in heart of new Cathedral centre

Archbishop Freier has dedicated a new centre, the heart of which is a common room named after the late Bishop Barbara Darling.

Archbishop Freier has dedicated a new centre, the heart of which is a common room named after the late Bishop Barbara Darling.

By Mark Brolly

December 16 2015Bishop Barbara Darling, the first woman to become a bishop in the Melbourne diocese, has been honoured 10 months to the day after her death with the dedication of the new Education and Ministry Centre at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Archbishop Philip Freier dedicated the new centre – the heart of which is a common room named after Bishop Darling, who served as an assistant bishop to him for more than six years until her retirement in late 2014 – after Choral Evensong at the Cathedral on 15 December.

Bishop Darling died on 15 February this year after a brief illness, shortly before she was to embark on a long-awaited retirement cruise around New Zealand. She was Senior Canon of the Cathedral, where she was among the first women to be ordained deacon in 1986 and priest in 1992, where she was consecrated a bishop in 2008 and in which her funeral was held on 22 February.

The Barbara Darling Room is the centrepiece of a $2.5 million redevelopment of the 124-year-old Cathedral Buildings, the traditional base of St Paul’s ministry and of the diocese. The room seats up to 100 people and the centre features a new kitchen, toilets and baby-changing area, with new lifts and disabled access from the Cathedral Close.

A photo of Bishop Darling, robed and mitred, greets visitors in the main corridor of the new centre.

After Evensong – at which the Revd Dave Fuller, Vicar of All Saints’ Greensborough, was collated as Archdeacon of the Yarra – Archbishop Freier joined the Cathedral clergy, canons, choir and congregation at the basement entrance to the new centre in Chapter House Lane. After the choir sang the Responsory and the Dean of Melbourne, the Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe, led the Bidding Prayers, Dr Freier prayed at the closed entrance door of the centre.

Project manager, Lay Canon Ms Leigh Mackay, architect Mr Arthur Andronas and site manager Mr Damian Batten then opened the door and the Archbishop marked the threshold with his staff before leading the way into the centre.

Archbishop Freier and the Precentor, the Revd Canon Heather Patacca, led the prayers of blessing and dedication inside the Barbara Darling Room before the Dean expressed thanks to the Cathedral Chapter and congregation and those involved in the project, especially Ms Mackay, Mr Andronas, Mr Batten, building director Mr Peter Cusack and built heritage consultant Ms Mim Butcher.

Dean Loewe said the new centre would enable the Cathedral congregation to have its own function space, as well as providing facilities for post-ordination training, Supervised Theological Field Education, language and cultural education, and faith, Bible study and inquiry courses.