SANDHURST Catholic Diocese has a new leader in Melbourne-born Shane Mackinlay.
His appointment was confirmed by Pope Francis on Tuesday night and Father Mackinlay replaces Bishop Les Tomlinson, who has served in the role since 2012 and recently reached retirement age.
The Sandhurst Diocese includes parishes in the North-East including Wodonga, Wangaratta, Yarrawonga and Benalla.
Father Mackinlay's ordination has been tentatively set for October 16 in Bendigo.
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His family moved from Melbourne to Ballarat in 1975 and the bishop elect attended St Francis Xavier Primary School and St Patrick's College where he was dux.
In addition to his study for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College and at Catholic Theological College, Father Mackinlay completed a physics degree at Monash University.
He was ordained a priest of Ballarat Diocese in 1991 and, after parish ministry, undertook graduate studies in philosophy, completing a master's and doctorate at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.
Father Mackinlay, 54, taught philosophy at the Australian Catholic University campus in Ballarat.
He also recently served as spokesperson for the Catholic Church during the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations.
In the neighbouring Wagga Diocese, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerard Hanna in 2016 due to ill-health with Christopher Prowse appointed the Apostolic Administrator.
Father Mackinlay has family ties to Rutherglen.
"I love teaching and also being involved with people in their local parish communities and I very much look forward to continuing those two ministries in a different way in my new role," he said.
"I've greatly enjoyed being a priest in the Ballarat diocese and I'm very pleased that I can continue my ministry among the people of regional Victoria."
He said Bishop Tomlinson's had provided "generous and diligent service" to the Sandhurst Diocese for the past seven years.
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