A well known and greatly respected leader of the Catholic Church has passed away.
Bishop Douglas Warren, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, died early last Wednesday morning, February 6, 2013, aged 93.
Bishop Warren was a resident of Southern Cross Village in Parkes.
A Requiem Mass for the repose of his soul will be held at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Parkes at 11am tomorrow, with interment to follow in the Forbes Cemetery.
A Vigil of Prayer is being held tonight at 7pm in the Holy Family Church.
Bishop Warren was born in Canowindra in 1919, the son of Alfred and Sarah Warren.
After he completed his secondary education, he began his studies to become a priest, first at St Columba’s Seminary, Springwood, NSW, and then in Rome, Italy.
He was ordained a priest in Rome in 1942.
Before returning to Australia, he spent a short time in England in 1943, serving as an assistant priest in a small rural parish.
Part of his duties was as chaplain to a nearby military hospital where wounded allied soldiers from Europe were cared for.
He saw firsthand the terrible injuries they suffered.
Arriving back in Australia in 1944, Fr Warren was appointed assistant priest in Parkes.
In 1947, the Bishop at that time, Bishop Thomas Fox, appointed him Bishop’s Secretary and Diocesan Chancellor and so moved to the Cathedral Parish of Broken Hill.
In 1956, he was then appointed Administrator of the Forbes Parish.
In 1964, Fr Warren was elected Auxiliary Bishop to Bishop Fox, who was in bad health.
Fr Warren was consecrated Bishop in Sacred Heart Cathedral, Broken Hill on July 27 1964.
Bishop Fox died in 1967, and Bishop Warren succeeded him as Diocesan Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes.
Bishop Warren spent most of his life as a Bishop, travelling around the vast territory of his Diocese, which covers more than half of NSW.
The welfare of the priests, especially those living and working in the small and isolated parishes, was one of his greatest concerns.
Likewise, was his concern for the people of the bush and their faith.
He was a strong supporter of Catholic schools in the Diocese and of the work of the religious sisters and brothers.
He successfully negotiated the change as lay teachers gradually took on the role that had for so long been filled by the sisters and brothers in the parish schools.
He also had a remarkable memory for people, and over the years came to know personally many of the families in the parishes of the Diocese.
In the latter years of his ministry, Bishop Warren became increasingly concerned for the future of the Diocese as the number of priests able to minister in the Diocese declined.
He initiated diocesan gatherings of people and priests to plan for the future when parishes and communities may not have a resident priest.
He encouraged the formation of men and women to ensure the prayer and worship in small communities would continue.
After nearly 30 years, Bishop Warren resigned as Bishop in 1994 to live the quieter life of retirement in Forbes.
However, he never lost interest in the needs and future of his Diocese and always maintained his connection with the priests and people.
In January 2012, Bishop Warren decided that the time had come for him to let others care for him, and he moved from his humble cottage in Forbes to the Southern Cross Village, Parkes.
In December 2012, he marked 70 years of priestly ministry among the people of the bush.
With his usual humility, he turned down the call of others to celebrate this milestone of ministry and spent the day quietly with members of his family.
It was only in the last months that his health began to seriously impair him.
And it was early on Wednesday morning February 6, 2013 that he passed away.
Bishop Warren lived frugally, but was always a generous host to any guest.
True to his life, he left very little in terms of material possessions.
However, his legacy as bishop and priest, as a pastor of his people, and as an inspiration of ministry to the priests of the Diocese, is great.
May he rest in peace, and may his good deeds go with him.