Archbishop Phillip Aspinall’s 30th anniversary of priestly service was celebrated on Thursday 25 July at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, where people from across our Diocese, along with special guests The Governor of Queensland His Excellency The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC QC and wife Mrs Kaye de Jersey, gathered for a Eucharist and lunch. In this special joint reflection, clergy and lay people from across our Diocese honour Archbishop Phillip Aspinall for his service, humour and goodness.
Introducing Archbishop Phillip – Bishop Ron Williams
I am honoured to introduce this joint reflection on Archbishop Phillip Aspinall with this fond and humorous memory.
I am ever grateful to God for Archbishop Phillip’s focussed attention to God’s mission and issues of probity for the Church community. These matters were often considered at the weekly meeting of Bishops.
I remember at one of these discussions I offered to bring him a cup of tea.
“Would you like me to add milk?” “Yes, thank you.” “Sugar?” “One please.”
“Would you like me to stir it?”
“You might as well. You’ve stirred everything else!”
His sense of humour is a precious gift, and we would not want to be without it.
Memories of Archbishop Phillip’s ordination to the priesthood – The Rev’d Canon Richard Tutin
Ordinations in a small diocese are a big event. Such was the case on 25 July 1989 when we arrived at St David’s Cathedral in Hobart to attend the ordination of six candidates – three to the order of deacons and three to the order of priests.
Archbishop Phillip had been ordained a deacon the year before. He was a well-known person in the Diocese, having been a former Diocesan youth and education officer.
I was Rector of Devonport and Editor of the Diocesan paper Church News at the time. I knew each of the candidates and, along with all who attended the service, was looking forward to supporting them as they began this stage of their ordained life.
My first contact with Archbishop Phillip had been in January 1985 at the first Australia-wide Anglican Youth Synod held in Sydney. Not only was he part of the Tasmanian contingent, he was also one of the key organisers of this significant event. This reflected his concern for the place of young people in the life of the church, as well as his commitment and passion for social justice issues.
That knowledge and slight experience of knowing him was probably in the back of my mind as I participated in the service. From memory it was an enjoyable gathering as we prayed, shared the Eucharist and celebrated the ordination of six people whose ministries within the Diocese were diverse and at times challenging. Little did we know at the time that one of those six would be consecrated bishop and eventually become an Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican church of Australia.
One area that has stood out for me over the years is the Archbishop’s scholarship. Not long after his ordination as a priest he was invited to present the daily reflections during our annual Diocesan clergy conference. The chosen topic was ‘The Humour of God’. I found his insights interesting and thoughtful. I think I still have the cassettes of those reflections. This is but one example of his ability to present a topic or paper after careful research and thought.
The thirtieth anniversary of ordination to the priesthood is a significant milestone. I give thanks to God for Archbishop Phillip’s ministry and leadership since that special service in Hobart where we gathered to support and pray for those being ordained back in 1989.
A gifted teacher – Sherril Molloy, Executive Director, Anglican Schools Commission
I have always been fascinated by the powerful stories of the disciples sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning and absorbing, having their faith shaped by their teacher.
Some years ago the School Chairs were told the Archbishop had asked for all leaders in the Diocese to undertake a Graduate Certificate in Theology. I was Chair at St Hilda’s at the time and encouraged 10 staff in that school to enrol. Teachers can be the most difficult and critical students. They groaned and moaned about any number of things, but they continued to gather once a week to learn together.
Towards the end of the first year the Archbishop joined them and led them. The impact the Archbishop had on them was remarkable. From that one experience there was transformation not only in their approach, attitude and willingness to study theology, but a transformation of each person and their own faith journey.
I believe in that experience and outcome I witnessed the Holy Spirit at work in their hearts and minds through a faithful and learned teacher. For an Archbishop I am sure it is easy to drown in the operational demands of a large organisation and the diplomatic demands of a diverse church, but there is no doubt that the Archbishop has the gifts of an extraordinary teacher who is able to transform.
Special memories of Archbishop Phillip Aspinall – Bishop Robert Nolan
I first met Archbishop Phillip Aspinall in the mid-1990s at an Anglican Aged Care conference outside Launceston, Tasmania. He attended each morning as the chaplain, leading Morning Prayer and presenting a daily reflection. I, along with many others, appreciated his reflections. Each was thought-provoking and relevant to aged care’s core values.
During my time as Bishop of the Western Region it was customary for the Archbishop to meet with the Assistant Bishops on a Thursday from 1 pm to 5 pm. This entailed regular travel from Toowoomba. The other Bishops lived in Brisbane. This imbalance was recognised and thus it was decided to meet at my home in Toowoomba once each year. They all agreed this was a very fair thing! However, there was one condition; it was believed they would be too tired after the long drive up the range to return to Brisbane on the same day. Overnight accommodation along with the evening meal, breakfast and lunch would be provided before their strength was restored sufficiently to make the long journey down the mountain! (At our weekly meetings in Brisbane I shared sandwiches and a cup of tea and at the end of the meeting was sent on my way!)
Contrary to folklore, these annual gatherings were very productive. On arrival at 4 pm tea and coffee were enjoyed as the Bishops would settle in front of the lounge room fire place. (These gatherings were always in winter.) The Archbishop’s briefcase would be opened to reveal printed matter dealing with various topics. These papers were wide-reaching and enabled discussion which was honest and open.
At the core the Archbishop is a wonderful house guest, quite at home with a tea towel in his hand. He would arrive equipped with various documents which opened up enthusiastic discussion and reflection.
Archbishop Phillip possesses a deep spirituality and takes to heart the vocation to which he has been called. There seems to be no end to his energy and diversity of interests. He is an avid reader and right up to date with ecclesiastical and temporal affairs. His mind is quick and he has a wonderful sense of humour (absolutely essential for a Bishop!).
I consider it a great honour and privilege to celebrate with him his thirty years of ordained ministry and look forward to celebrating many more into the future.
In particular, I wish to express my gratitude for his enduring friendship, not only during the time I was an Assistant Bishop with responsibilities for the Western Region, but also for the years before and after.
As the Archbishop, and for nine years the Primate, he has had to deal with many issues of profound importance for the wider Church. To my mind Archbishop Phillip has always carried out his responsibilities with prayerful reflection, conviction and honesty. Accepting the position of high office often brings isolation and criticism. I believe Archbishop Phillip has endured more than his fair share of pains caused by such times with grace and conviction.
I also wish to give honour to Christa for her devotion and loyalty to Archbishop Phillip. Christa has carried with her many deep pains known only to them. And to God, I give thanks.
On our Archbishop – Ann Joseph, Executive Assistant
I was asked to write a few words on the occasion of our Archbishop’s 30th Anniversary of his Ordination to the priesthood and I am delighted to do so.
I first met Archbishop Phillip on the morning of Wednesday 10 November 2010. I was ‘summonsed’ to his office two days after commencing as an Assistant in the Bishops’ office! As I entered his office (with notebook and pen in hand) Bishops Jonathan Holland and Geoffrey Smith were also in the room. Of course if you are asked to go to the big boss’ office on your third day in the job your mind somehow goes to the place of “Ohhh Lord, what have I done wrong?!”
In his matter of fact voice, the Archbishop mentioned that his secretary, the late Ros Elliott, was on extended sick leave and I would now be working for him (rather than for the Assistant Bishops). Suddenly my first ever four-day a week job (which I was so excited about) had somehow returned to five days a week – full-time – how did that happen?!
If I were to describe our Archbishop, I would say (in no particular order) that he is a phenomenal man of God – called to build the Church and spread the Good News, God-loving, very tall, kind, compassionate, intelligent, articulate, and knowledgeable and has an incredible memory and a beautiful mind. He is a perfectionist and can spot typos a mile away! Over the years, I have seen Archbishop Phillip take the world on his shoulders, especially during his time as Primate of the Australian Church and with his tireless work on Royal Commission matters. He leads with gusto; preaches with passion; and works with precision and thought and does not like fuss. He writes with conviction and lobbies for those who have suffered and survived with his all. He is thought provoking and thoughtful and has integrity and perseverance. Walter Elliott once said “perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another” – and there have been many short races.
Our Archbishop is blessed with his beautiful family – his amazing wife Christa, son Daniel, daughter in law Taryn and little grandson Rafe, and younger son Nathan.
May our Archbishop continue to participate in many more races, and may God continue to give him the energy, determination, patience and endurance to keep striving and may he celebrate many more anniversaries ahead.Jump to next article