THE new bishop of the Anglican Church’s Diocese of Natal, Dino Gabriel, said his appointment was “totally unexpected,” after it was announced in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
The Italian-born bishop moved to South Africa as a Roman Catholic priest in 1987, later joining the Anglican Church in 1992 in the Diocese of the Highveld.
The bishop, who is fluent in Zulu, was eventually elected the bishop of Diocese of Zululand in 2005.
Gabriel said he was not in the running to be the new Bishop of the Anglican Church’s Diocese of Natal when the election process began last Wednesday.
“In our church, it is a process [the election] that entails calling the diocese together with delegates representing each parish.
“There were 300 delegates gathered at the Cathedral of Holy Nativity in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday and only three candidates, of which I was not one. I was there to represent my church and to monitor the process.”
Gabriel said by Thursday, they had not elected a bishop and opened the floor for “fresh nominations”.
“I was nominated on Wednesday night and after a very troubled night, I came to the conclusion that it was God’s will and I would accept the nomination.
“I came to Pietermaritzburg to do one job [monitor the election process] and ended up with another job [bishop],” laughed Gabriel.
“It was totally unexpected. When I was elected as the bishop, I said in my speech that it was never my intention to come here to be elected as bishop but I will love you all with the love of the Lord as much as I can,” he said.
The Zulu-speaking Italian said he had spent 95% of his years in South Africa in Zulu-speaking areas and had come to learn and love the language.
“My church in Zululand is mourning me I think, but they understand that I was chosen and did not go to Pietermaritzburg with the intention of being elected.”
The bishop lives in Zululand with his Swazi wife, Elizabeth, and the couple have four children together.