20 Jan 2012
The Herefords and the farm in Victoria await his arrival on Australia Day.
Australia's first Rome-based Ambassador to the Holy See for the past three years the Hon Tim Fischer AC has now officially ended his career in public life. Although those who know Tim are convinced the man and his traditional Akubra will not be off the scene for long.
Just as his Akubra became a regular site around Australia so too did it in Rome. He wore it everywhere, except to the Vatican audiences with the Holy Father. Not to have it on his head or in hand would have been like R.M.Williams walking out without his, well, R.M.s.
Tim's farewell reception in Rome included 150 close friends and colleagues, his wife Judy and their two teenage boys. And his devoted staff.
It was held at Domus Australia, the pilgrim and visitors centre officially opened by Pope Benedict XVI in October last year.
The evening began with an organ recital in the St Peter Chanel chapel of Domus followed by a reception in the Cardinal Knox Centre and conference room at Domus. Tim also wanted the reception to recognise and celebrate Australia Day.
His ability to freely mix in wide and varied circles was highlighted by the guests - ambassadors, politicians, leaders of industry and trade, clergy ,friends from his parish in Rome and visitors to the Eternal City.
"It has been a great privilege to be Ambassador of Australia to the Holy See; I thank so many and observe that the four pillars of family, education, army and faith helped me with the posting, plus the supportive friendship of so many here," he said.
"Diplomacy does matter and many issues have been pursued in practical ways, particularly with regard to religious freedom, interfaith dialogue and food security, including the vital seminar held in Domus Australia on 'Food Insecurity' which was addressed brilliantly by Bishop Sanchez Sorondo (who is here tonight).
"On this Australia Day celebration, the 111th birthday of Australia this month, I salute the Holy See, the oldest organisation in the World, and I salute Australia, a relatively new nation going places.
"Finally, in thanking everybody, I would also highlight and thank the Caravita Church community, my local Parish Church near Piazza St Ignazio, where much good faith and friendship are well fostered. In closing, my salutations to all who do so much magnificent work in Rome from both sides of the Tiber, from the Curia and Caritas Internationalis to the Anglican and Methodist centres, the Gregorian University and beyond."
"It goes without saying that the office of the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, and you as the more recently appointed Ambassador, have been instrumental in further strengthening the links between Australia and the Holy See, as well as connecting the Vatican and Australians more generally.
"Particular highlights of your time in office in Rome have without a doubt been the role you played in the Canonisation of Australia's first saint, Mary MacKillop of the Cross, as well as the official opening of Domus Australia in the presence of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
"Both of these occasions were very special moments for Australia and the Catholic Church," Cardinal Pell wrote.
However after 13 years in state politics he was encouraged to stand for the federal seat of Farrer in 1984. Six years later he defeated former leader Ian Sinclair for the leadership of the re-named National Party. In federal politics Tim Fischer's experience was in energy, resources and trade. He was Minister for Trade and Deputy Prime Minister between 1996 and 1999. When he retired from Federal Parliament in 2001 he had the respect of Catholics and non-Catholics alike and from all sides of politics.
From 2004-2007 he was chairman of Tourism Australia before the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed him the following year to be Australia's first resident Ambassador to the Holy See.
Tim has also found time to write a book on Bhutan, a landlocked statein South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas, a place he has visited a number of times. His passion for trains and train journeys has also produced two books.
Retirement will no doubt bring more books, charity work and helping Judy run the farm.
As yet no replacement for Tim Fischer has been announced. He will be a hard to follow. http://www.sydneycatholic.org/news/latest_news/2012/2012120_619.shtml