Pope Francis has appointed Fr Michael Gielen from the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton as the new Auxiliary Bishop for Auckland.
The appointment was announced in Rome at midnight New Zealand time, 7 January, 2020.
Ordained as a priest in 1997, Bishop-elect Gielen served parishes in Gisborne, Hamilton and the western Bay of Plenty before becoming Director of Formation at the Holy Cross Seminary in Auckland in 2014, helping to train new priests.
In his new role, he will assist the Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn. The Diocese of Auckland has almost 40 per cent of New Zealand’s 471,000 Catholics.
‘I will bring a 21st Century vision of the Church to my role’, says Bishop-elect Gielen. ‘That is the Church I know.’
Bishop Dunn says he is thrilled by the appointment and knows the new Bishop-elect – who is already well known in the diocese – will be warmly welcomed by priests and lay people alike.
Cambridge-born Bishop-elect Gielen (48) is the son of Henk and Maureen Gielen of Mount Maunganui, and is the eldest of six children. He is a keen sportsman and enjoys cricket, rugby, cycling and golf.
‘I am humbled by the appointment, because my whole priestly ministry has been during the time of our present bishops. My first thought was a feeling of unworthiness to stand in the shadow of these people in such a role.
‘I now accept this new call in God’s service, aware of my need for God’s help, with thankfulness for this opportunity to serve alongside the people of the Diocese of Auckland.’
Bishop-elect Gielen attended Forest View High School in Tokoroa from 1992 to 1997. His seminary formation was at Holy Cross College, Mosgiel 1992–1995, and he completed a Bachelor of Theology, University of Otago 2005–2007; a Master in Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville, USA, 2012–2014; and the Licentiate in Theology, St Peter Favre Centre for Formators to the Priesthood and Religious Life, Gregorian University, Rome.
Bishop-elect Gielen will continue his work at Holy Cross Seminary until arrangements are made to replace him. His ordination as an auxiliary bishop is expected to take place in Auckland by Easter.