Bishop Manning named a "Champion of the West"

Bishop Kevin Manning has been named one of the "2006 Champions of the West", a group that includes actor Toni Collette and cricket legend Mark Waugh.

Catholic Outlook reports that the awards were presented on 10 March at the "Celebrate the West" luncheon to raise funds for the San Miguel Family Centre, an outreach of the De La Salle Brothers' BoysTown.

The awards recognise the unique contribution made to the culture of Western Sydney by the recipients in the areas of public life, the arts, sport and business.

The event was hosted by actor Bryan Brown and attended by the Governor of NSW Marie Bashir and her husband, Sir Nicholas Shehadie.

The 2006 Champions are Mr Jim Aitken, Mr Bruce Brown, Ms Toni Collette, Mr George Eliot, Bishop Kevin Manning, Ms Jean Peare, Mr Mark Waugh, Mr Peter Wynn, and Mr and Mrs John and Clara Whelan.

Bishop Manning was honoured for his community leadership since becoming the Bishop of Parramatta in 1997. Bishop Manning is well known for his commitment to social justice, Catholic education and inter-faith dialogue in Australia's fastest-growing Catholic Diocese.

In accepting his award Bishop Manning said, although born in the town of Coolah in country NSW, he was proud to be counted among Western Sydney's "Champions".

"I was brought up during the Depression years," he said. "Even though life was hard, there were some things that you could take for granted: a strong and loving family life, solid education, the possibility of employment, all held together by our Catholic faith.

"I know that in Western Sydney today many young people do not have these opportunities or are unable to avail of them. So I am delighted to support the work of San Miguel, and youth ministry and other diocesan agencies whose aim is to help needy families and give them a chance in life."

He said recent media reports on a survey measuring "tolerance" in Australia's suburbs had surprised some in revealing that it is often the more affluent suburbs that are the least tolerant of other people's ethnicity, language and beliefs.

By contrast, the Diocese of Parramatta celebrates its multiculturalism every day with 72 language groups represented in its schools. "I know that the best of human, and Australian, values are practiced by the people of the Western suburbs," Bishop Manning said.

People who settled in Western Sydney, he said, wanted the same basic things in life: "A job which will support their families, decent housing, education for their children and opportunities to build family life."

He said the Church is right to engage in political debates to help protect these "basic human necessities."

"This is why I was keen to be involved in the debate on the Workplace Relations Bill, trying to promote the human dignity of workers, and their entitlement to fair treatment, wages and conditions in the workplace," said the Bishop.

Bishop Manning a "Champion of the West" (Catholic Outlook April 2006)

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6 Apr 2006