HE KEPT THE FAITH - AND HE LOVED US
by Bishop David Chislett
This tribute to Bishop Hazlewood was written for the All Saints' Gazette, the parish magazine of All Saints' Wickham Terrace.
"The passing of an era" is how the Ballarat Courier summed up the Requiem Mass offered at the funeral of Bishop John Hazlewood on Wednesday 9th September, 1998.
The Anglican Cathedral of Christ the King was unable to be used because of repairs being made to the roof. And so, in a quirky twist that Bishop John would have enjoyed, the Anglican Diocese accepted the Roman Catholic Church's invitation to use St Patrick's Cathedral for the occasion.
The Ballarat Courier went on to describe Bishop John's funeral as "a fitting end to a rich and unusual life", and continued: "One suspects that this extraordinary service for an extraordinary man would have sat as comfortably with Bishop Hazlewood as his mitre."
Principal celebrant of the Mass was the Rt. Rev'd. David Silk, Bishop John's successor. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr George Pell, whose friendship with Bishop John was well-known, sat with Bishop Connors of Ballarat, and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Keith Rayner.
Almost 100 clergy filed into the Cathedral to say farewell to a greatly loved Father-in-God. They were joined by local political leaders, and, to quote the Courier again, "the hundreds of others who had been touched in some way by the flamboyant Bishop Hazlewood".
Bishop John had left strict instructions about his funeral, and so it was that, under the direction of Father Bill Edebohls (who had just resigned the Deanery in Ballarat) the Mass was celebrated from the Missal, using the ancient Roman Canon. Father Peter Treloar, who had been Bishop John's chaplain, preached a magnificent sermon/eulogy.
Before six priests who had been ordained by him carried Bishop John's body from the cathedral, the Regina Caeli was sung, honouring Our Lady, and rejoicing in the glorious resurrection of her Son - the victory over death that he shares with his people.
John Hazlewood was born on 19th May, 1924 in London and raised in New Zealand. He served in the RAF during World War II and then read theology at Kings College, Cambridge. Following priestly training at Cuddeston Theological College, he was ordained deacon in 1949 and priest in 1950, both in Southwark Cathedral. He served the parish of St Michael and All Angels, Camberwell in London.
After a short curacy in Sydney (St Jude's Randwick) and a couple of years in Dubbo, N.S.W., he returned to Camberwell where he remained until being appointed Vice Principal of St Francis College, Brisbane, in 1955. It was during this time that he preached and said Mass regularly at All Saints' Wickham Terrace as an honorary assistant priest to Father Peter Bennie. At the time of my induction there were still parishioners who remembered the dashing Father Hazlewood sometimes riding his motorbike from St Francis College to All Saints, clad in soutane and biretta!)
From 1960 to 1968 he was Dean of Rockhampton. During this period he married Dr Shirley Shevill, sister of the Bishop of North Queensland. In 1968, John Hazlewood was appointed Dean of Perth, where his innovative and exuberant style brought him into national prominence. Thousands of young people flocked to hear Dean Hazlewood preach the Gospel in a way that was fresh, relevant and arresting at the famous rock Masses.
In 1975 John Hazlewood was elected seventh Bishop of Ballarat, and embarked on a programme of catholic renewal, promoting the ministry of lay people, supporting youth ministry, encouraging lay education programmes, and attracting many men to the priesthood. He proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary to be patroness of the Diocese under her English title "Our Lady of Walsingham", and links were formed between the Diocese and the shrine in Norfolk.
Bishop John worked tirelessly to renew parishes in a vital evangelical catholicism, placing the Eucharist at the heart of each community. He was responsible for the renovation of the Cathedral and the building of an impressive Diocesan Centre. Great diocesan rallies were held at Portland and Warnambool.
In 1978 he established a Joint Diocesan Commission with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ballarat, "to work and pray towards the reunion of our churches."
Throughout his episcopate Bishop John was one of the few real champions of catholic orthodoxy within Australian Anglicanism, thus resisting the liberal protestant insistence on the ordination of women.
In 1988 he entered into a Communion relationship with Archbishop Louis Falk and the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, and in retirement participated in the consecration of bishops for that body, as well as administering the sacrament of Confirmation for them.
John Hazlewood retired in 1993, continuing to live in Ballarat where his wife Shirley was a popular General Practitioner. She and their son Paul predeceased him. He is survived by his younger son, James.
Bishop John inspired countless young men to offer their lives to Jesus and the Church as priests. He was not without his faults - some of them conspicuous! - but his time as Bishop of Ballarat is widely regarded as having been a great spiritual adventure. Those of us who were nurtured by him and ordained by him regard ourselves as blessed indeed.
Bishop John maintained his affection for All Saints' Wickham Terrace down through the years. He encouraged me to accept the parish in 1995, and was a most helpful advisor in the delicate discussions that led to my appointment. He visited five times after my induction, and, before his health deteriorated, had seriously considered moving to Brisbane to be near old friends.
It is fitting that under the magnificent portrait of Bishop John in the foyer of the All Saints' Parish Centre are the words:
"He kept the Faith - and he loved us."
Some All Saints' parishioners will remember the Midnight Mass sermon to which Father Peter Treloar referred in his sermon HERE, as well as the extraordinary Holy Week Bishop John preached for us in 1996.
The obituary Father Treloar wrote for the media concluded with these words:
"A man of letters and history, of art and drama, of music and gardens, Bishop Hazlewood was anything but dull. He had lunched with T.S. Eliot and Elton John, Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger. His reputation as a theological conservative masked a keen and open mind. Most of all, he was a man who lived by the love he proclaimed. The Rock Mass for Love stood at the centre of his career and as the focus of his beliefs. He is thus mourned by his opponents as well as by his friends."
+ Give him eternal rest, O Lord, and may your light shine on him forever.
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