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Order of Malta Australia


Ordination of new Bishop of Darwin Diocese Charles Victor Emmanuel Gauci


Report by Sean Parnell

On the 26th of September 2018 Darwin witnessed an event only seen once before in its history, the ordination of a new Bishop.

The event held a special significance to Territory members of the Order as Bishop Gauci was born in Malta and grew up surrounded by the rich symbolism and history of the order before migrating to Australia with his family.

Bishop Gauci gave his blessing for the members of the order to process into the Cathedral with him on his ordination and has assured us of his ongoing support and blessings for the work of the Order in the Diocese and beyond.

Bishop Gauci became the 5th Bishop of Darwin but only the second ordained within the diocese, the others ordained in southern parts of Australia. The appal Nuncio read the decree from Pope Francis announcing his appointment and the assembled crowds including 20 Australian Bishops erupted with tumultuous applause on his announcement of appointment.

The Northern Territory Administrator Vicki O’halloran AM was present with her husband along with many other people spread from across the diocese, filling the cathedral to the brim and beyond.

The ordination was a wonderful event showcasing the depth and breadth of the vibrant cultural diversity of the Territory.

There was a special smoking ceremony before we processed into the church and an emphasis on the aboriginal parishioners of the diocese showcased by singing and dancing along traditional aboriginal cultural with an emphasis on the spirituality of aboriginal culture within the mother church.

Bishop Emeritus Eugene Hurley who Bishop Charles has succeeded has indicated his intention to remain in the Diocese to offer any support to our new Bishop.

The Members of the Order on Darwin thanked Bishop Charles for his active support of the Order and his blessing for our involvement in his ordination and look forward to a long and bountiful relationship with him during his time in the Territory.


7th Bishop of Darwin

Charles Victor Emmanuel Gauci was born into a Catholic family at Floriana (also known by its title Borgo Vilhena) a fortified town in the South Eastern Region area of the island Republic of Malta, just outside the capital city Valletta on 31 March 1952 the first child (of six) of his late parents John Gauci and his wife Violet (née Briffa). He has two brothers and three sisters.

Before his birth, the future Bishop’s maternal grandparents migrated to Australia with seven of their grandchildren. His family followed 16 years later, and he turned 13 on the day their ship crossed the equator on the way to Australia.

His father’s two sister died as Franciscan nuns and his younger brother, Fr Joseph Gauci Sacco SJ has served on the Jesuit mission in India since 1957 working mostly among the Santals, the largest tribe in India.

The Bishop-elect had his primary education in Malta and completed secondary school in Adelaide where he attended a mixture of government and Marist Brothers’ schools.

The future Bishop entered St Francis Xavier’s seminary in Adelaide in January 1971. After study and formation, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Adelaide in the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier by Archbishop James Glesson, Archbishop Emeritus of Adelaide on 10 December 1977. After his ordination, he trained to be a spiritual director and was formed in Ignatian spirituality.

From his ordination until the announcement of his appointment to guide the people of the Diocese of Darwin, which comprises almost all of the Northern Territory, the future Bishop served in different roles in the Archdiocese of Adelaide notably as a member of the diocesan College of Consultors, member and President of the Council of Priests, member of the appointments board, Chaplain to the council for youth and young adults and as a dean.

His pastoral life has seen him assigned to various parishes in the Archdiocese of Adelaide: in January 1978, he was appointed assistant priest of Hectorville Parish; in 1983, he was appointed to Woodville Parish; in 1985, he was appointed to Elizabeth North Parish; and, in 1987, he was appointed to Elizabeth Parish for 11 years in stream ministry across the two Elizabeth parishes. In 1998 he was appointed to the Parish of Noarlunga Seaford. In the year 2001 was also assigned the Willunga Parish to which group were eventually added the parishes of Kangaroo Island and Victor Harbor-Goolwa. From February 2017 until his appointment to Darwin, he served as Administrator of St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Adelaide.

Until his appointment to Darwin, he served as a chaplain to several schools and ministered as a Spiritual director and director of retreats.

A big influence in the future Bishop’s life has been The Society of Christian Doctrine (founded by St George Preca and known as MUSEUM after the acronym of its motto Magister Utinam Seguatur Evangelium Universus Mundus – May the whole world follow the Gospel), which he first encountered as a boy in Malta. He was enrolled into the Society in 1970 just before entering the seminary and was its national Chaplin in Australia at the time of his appointment.

The Bishop-elect has a personal interest in outdoors activities, hiking, swimming and gardening. He is a lover of history and literature.


Coat of Arms

One of the priorities of the Bishop-elect is to listen to and walk with our Aboriginal sisters and brothers and a central element of the otherwise traditional coat of arms which he has chosen is an Indigenous design (which he has called Many Yet One).

Many Yet One represents coming together as one people with different journeys and much diversity into the infinite love of the Holy Trinity.

The central element of the design represents the Holy Trinity. The blue colouring reflects the waters of Baptism as well as the communities of the north coast and the islands in the adjacent sea. The other colours represent the variety of communities throughout the whole Diocese. The circles of dots reflect the collaborative nature of the consultation which the Bishop-elect wishes to be a mark of his episcopacy – a community of communities working together with different paths leading to respect and unity.

Many Yet One derives from a design by Indigenous artist Lyn Walker by whose generous permission it as been adapted for use by the Bishop-elect.

The arms also contain elements of the arms of the Gauci family and reflect his Maltese origins. While the castle is derived from the Gauci coat of arms, it also represents the interior castles of our hearts leading us into contemplative union with God as expressed by St Teresa of Avila.

The Australian Association

The Australian Association, formed in 1974, currently has in excess of 300 members and aspirant members across every State and Territory of Australia. We also have ongoing and strong links with the Order’s National Associations throughout the Asia Pacific Region including in Singapore and the Philippines and with members of the Order in New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand and Korea. The Order of Malta is committed to serving Our Lords the Poor and Sick worldwide and has done so for over 900 years. This website shares with you the history, mission and current activities of the Order of Malta in Australia, and provides links to the work of the Order world-wide.