It is just over twelve months since Philip Freier was installed as Archbishop of Melbourne. Miss Eagle is unable to comment on whether Ab Philip is a good administrator of the affairs of the Archdiocese. She is also unable to comment on what sort of guidance, counsel and spiritual leadership the Archbishop provides to the clergy and laity. However, there is no gainsaying the public leadership provided by the Archbishop in 2007. It has been constant and remarkable.
He began with his Prayer4Melbourne quest. This twelve month program has seen the Archbishop out and about in all sorts of places and settings meeting all sorts of people. This has promoted awareness of Melbourne not only for the Archbishop, a newcomer to Melbourne, but within the Anglican constituency itself. The quest has also given the Archbishop and the Anglican community an enlarged profile in Melbourne.
In tandem with the quest, has been Conversations with the Archbishop. The conversations, which are held at BMW Edge in Federation Square, have received great attention and interest. The quality of the speakers has been excellent. The Archbishop has handled his role well.
[A small contingent from St Thom's at Upper Gully will be fronting up to this Wednesday's conversation with Hugh McKay. This is no mean feat because none of us are young and we will be catching the 6.32am train. This will get us there a few minutes late, Archbishop, but we'll be there with our Christmas bells on!]
One exercise of communal and Christian leadership was the Archbishop's address in reply to Patrick Dodson's speech in Brunswick in October. It was a tour de force.
One of the Archbishop's conversations focussed on childhood depression when, on November 14, he held a public conversation under the title Our crisis of childhood depression. Ab Philip was joined by the Director of Women's Forum Australia, Melinda Tankard Reist, and Professor Alasdair Vance, the Head of Academic Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne. The Archbishop has called for a national inquiry into the state of childhood in Australia. He has renewed his call to-day in The Age.
Archbishop Philip has highlighted Mission Australia's 2007 Survey of Australia's Young People. Read of its major findings here.