On Friday 28 May, The Very Revd Kanishka Da Silva Raffel, Dean of Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral, was consecrated as Archbishop of the Diocese of Sydney and Metropolitan of New South Wales of the Anglican Church of Australia.
Archbishop Raffel’s consecration took place in a packed church with the Cathedral Choir, brass ensemble, and with many bishops and laity in attendance. The service was well planned and executed with all the solemnity and gospel dignity requisite for such an occasion.
The new archbishop oversees a diocese currently with 275 parishes and 450 congregations in a portion of Australia that is expected to see rapid population increase in the next two decades. The diocese has the reputation of being one of the most theologically conservative and dynamic dioceses within the 90,000,000 member Anglican Communion.
Raffel, raised a Buddhist, became a Christian as an adult after his family had emigrated from Sri Lanka through the UK and Canada before finally settling in Australia. He was born in London in 1964 and he and his wife, Cailey have two children.
As he closed his inaugural sermon as Archbishop, Raffel staked out his understanding as a Christian and his role as leader of the Diocese of Sydney.
“The message of the cross is indispensable for Archbishops, for the Church’s mission and for Christians in daily life and witness.
“Our culture is suspicious of revelation, we’re sceptical about truth, we only trust what we experience, if people are interested in the spirit, it is private, not something I do in community…..We must engage with all of that, we must be creative, courageous, contemporary, willing to fail. We must find a way of speaking that connects with our culture but we will not make disciples without the message of the Cross.
“To the most empowered but anxious generation we have ever known, the Cross says you are loved, you are not alone, you may cast all your anxiety on God knowing that he cares for you. How can we know he cares? Because of the Cross! The Apostle John says – This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Then, visibly moved, Raffel concluded, ”I am cognisant of the weighty responsibilities committed to me. I have made solemn promises. There is an element of tradition and history. I have been robed with vestments and tokens of authority. But do not let the paraphernalia obscure the message. Do not be deceived. At the foot of the Cross, which is all the world to me, I am nothing more and nothing less than a grateful and forgiven sinner. Though I have been given particular responsibilities, I have no higher dignity or title than ‘child of God’. ”