Bishop Brian Heenan says goodbye to his Mackay-area parishioners after he officially retires from his role as Bishop of Rockhampton.
Bishop Brian Heenan says goodbye to his Mackay-area parishioners after he officially retires from his role as Bishop of Rockhampton. Allan Reinikka

Beach and travel on the agenda as Bishop Heenan retires

HEADING to the beach, riding his bike and travelling are a few of the activities Bishop Brian Heenan is looking forward to.

He will now be known as Bishop Emeritus Heenan after retiring from his post as Bishop of Rockhampton, which he has held since 1991.

He said he became aware of his calling to the priesthood while in secondary school and, with the support of his parents, entered Pius XII Seminary in Banyo at the age of 19.

Last year Bishop Heenan celebrated his 75th birthday. The Sunshine Coast will be his new home.

"I have family there," he said.

The bishop is looking forward to spending time at the beach.

"I love the surf," he said.

He will also explore the area on his bike.

Although he has said goodbye to his parishes around central Queensland, Bishop Heenan hopes to still help in parishes on the Sunshine Coast.

He will offer his services to various churches when it's needed.

"I won't stop being a priest," he said.

But the extra time away from official duties will allow him to do other activities.

After a while Bishop Heenan hopes to travel, hopefully to Europe, and said he would like to meet Pope Francis.

His last visit to Rome was months prior to the Pope's appointment.

"I have been there about six times but next time I won't be on duty," Bishop Heenan said.

Former Mackay priest Fr Andrew Chase recently moved to Rome to further his vocation and learning.

Bishop Heenan's advice to Fr Chase was to take his time.

He said moving from Australia to Italy was confronting, especially with the language barrier.

"My advice was to take it slowly - many of the teachings are in Italian," he said.

Bishop Heenan said he would miss visiting Mackay and surrounding areas.

"I found joy in visiting the parishes, schools and aged-care facilities," he said.

"I admire the spirit of the people in the area and will miss them."



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