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Calm presence in turbulent times

DAVID HUBERT WARNER SHAND ANGLICAN BISHOP 6-4-1921 - 8-7-2011

DAVID HUBERT WARNER SHAND

ANGLICAN BISHOP

6-4-1921 - 8-7-2011

THE Right Reverend David Shand, who calmly overcame emotional and sometimes hostile challenges in overseeing the amalgamation of the diocese of St Arnaud with the diocese of Bendigo in the late 1970s before his appointment as regional bishop in Melbourne, has died at a nursing home in Mornington. He was 90.

Shand became a wise confidant of two archbishops, bringing commonsense and political savvy to some delicate situations, before retiring in 1988 as vicar-general.

A practical, no-nonsense priest imbued with the traditions and ceremonies of the church he loved, he was also a reflective biblical preacher and gifted, open pastor, as well as ebullient and sociable.

The son of an Anglican priest his father, Rupert, was rector at St Luke's, Toowoomba, for 27 years Shand was born at Murgon in Queensland and gained his early education at Southport School. His tertiary studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, and he served as a lieutenant with the 6th Artillery in the 2/3rd Field Regiment at Wee Wak in New Guinea as well as in the Pacific Islands.

He was one of the last remaining Australian bishops who served overseas in World War II.

Back from the war, he married Jean Bennett in January 1946, and an honours degree in theology at St Francis College in Brisbane was followed by a BA from Queensland University. In 1949 he was ordained priest in Brisbane.

Shand served with distinction in that diocese until he was appointed vicar of Christ Church, South Yarra, in 1966, and three years later at St Andrew's Brighton.

His election as bishop of St Arnaud in 1973 was to be a great test of his character, and of his integrity as a priest and pastor.

Perhaps prophetically, as the clergy and people of St Arnaud waited for his entrance into the tiny St Arnaud Cathedral, there was suddenly a mighty, rushing wind and much banging of the tin roof as a fierce storm struck the town. Then, in the quietness that followed, there came three knocks on the door with the pastoral staff. It was reminiscent of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem about 2000 years earlier!

Little did those gathered know of the turmoil and the change that was to follow during his episcopate.

Over the preceding 50 years the diocese of St Arnaud had been depleted, with fewer parishes following changes in farming methods and consequent depopulation. For Shand, the diocese's third bishop, the task was how to provide pastoral and priestly ministry to people scattered across the sand hills of the Mallee. Discussions with Ballarat diocese were unfruitful and eventually agreement was reached with Bendigo. This was a stressful, emotional and challenging time for Shand and his family, with accusations of betrayal and open hostility from some of the senior clergy and a former bishop. However, his leadership guided the diocese through the turmoil in 1976 and the amalgamation was officially enacted on January 1, 1977 effectively ending his time as bishop of St Arnaud.

H returned to Melbourne and Archbishop Frank Woods appointed him to the parish of St Stephen's in Mount Waverley. Later, Archbishop Robert Dann appointed him bishop of the southern region, and still later Archbishop David Penman appointed him bishop of the western region and Geelong.

Shand loved people. He loved their company, their friendship and related to them in their joys and sorrows.

In his retirement at Mount Eliza and then Mornington, his life continued to revolve around his family. Life had its routine. Carpentry tasks such as renewing the pool decking, visits to the supermarket and chatting with the Safeway women and anyone else he met.

He also visited the servicemen and women at the army camp at Puckapunyal, where old memories were revived with an artillery demonstration.

Foreign films on SBS were his favourite and carried the day in the living room until he fell asleep in his armchair, when the channel would be changed.

His invariable advice to his children and grandchildren was the saying, "Nil bastardo carborundum" (Don't let the bastards wear you down), with the equally inevitable farewell, "have fun".

In 1996, during the grand 150th anniversary Choral Eucharist at Christ Church South Yarra, with a wide grin he said to the author, "How do you fill the place like this? They never did it in my day!"

Shand is survived by Jean, his wife and faithful companion of 65 years, children Jennifer, Susan, Michael and Ruth, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.


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