The Wagga Catholic Diocese is set to welcome a new bishop, over three-and-a-half years after his predecessor's retirement.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Mark Edwards OMI as the sixth bishop of Wagga this evening.
Bishop Edwards, 61, was born in Indonesia and grew up across Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1986, and ordained as a bishop in 2014.
At that time he was appointed an Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne.
Through the years Bishop Edwards has had various roles in secondary and seminary education, as well as studying science and philosophy at Monash University, obtaining a doctorate in the latter.
Bishop Edwards addressed the people of the Wagga diocese in a letter following his appointment.
"I am aware that I have much to learn, particularly about parish life and the joys and challenges of being a Catholic in Wagga," he said.
"Keen to listen to your stories and those of the Diocese, I come humbly, with deep interest and love."
His appointment comes after almost four years without a bishop in Wagga following the retirement of Bishop Gerard Hanna in 2016 due to ill health after more than a decade in the role.
Bishop Edwards paid tribute to Bishop Hanna and Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn, who has overseen the Wagga diocese since 2016.
He will continue in that role until Bishop Edwards officially takes on the role with a date yet to be set for his installation.
The new bishop also praised the people of the diocese for their patience in the absence of a bishop.
"I thank you all for your perseverance, your patience and your good will, which have enabled the Diocese to function so well over these last three-and-a-half years," he said.
Bishop Edwards said he expected his installation to be a small event due to coronavirus restrictions, but indicated he would be personally visiting members of the parish when possible and possibly holding a larger formal gathering to mark the occasion when restrictions ease sufficiently.
Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli praised Bishop Edwards ahead of the announcement.
"It is with great pleasure - and a twinge of sadness - that I welcome the appointment of Bishop Mark Edwards OMI as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Wagga," he said.
The announcement coincided with the catholic Feast Day of St Philip Neri.
"St Philip was a 16th century disciple well-known for his natural ability to connect with people and invite them to an encounter with the risen Jesus," Archbishop Comensoli said.
"As Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Bishop Mark has shown this same missionary zeal, especially in his work with our young people and tertiary communities, and with the people of the Western Region of the Archdiocese for whom he has cared for these past four years as their Regional Bishop.
"He will be well-placed to listen to and lead the people of God in Wagga."