As the newly announced bishop of the Wagga Catholic Diocese, Bishop Mark Edwards is looking forward to the chance to get to know the priorities of people in parishes across the Riverina.
Bishop Edwards is set to be installed in mid to late July after three-and-a-half years with no bishop in the diocese.
He said he believed his strength was being around people and listening, and he expected it would take a while for the community to open up and tell him what he needed to hear.
Bishop Edwards comes into the role during a pivotal period nationwide for the Catholic Church, with the first Plenary Council since 1937 to be held once coronavirus restrictions are eased.
He said he hoped the council would bring about a "new synthesis" from a range of ideas on how to adapt after the recent challenges the church has faced, taking into account a need for transparency and accountability raised by members of the church both nationally and locally.
"I'm actually really convinced that the Plenary Council is personally a great opportunity," he said.
"It's going to teach me what a vision for a dioceses should be, so I'm really keen to engage in the Plenary Council and to bring its learnings and its teachings back to the diocese."
Locally, he said he had a role in establishing trust as a newcomer to the region.
"As someone who comes into the diocese ... I come here as a new person and I think I've got to earn people's trust," he said.
"I think being with people, hearing what they have to say, responding to that appropriately and being consistent, I think if I do those things people go 'okay, we can rely on him'."
Catholicism remains the predominant religion across the Riverina, and Bishop Edwards said one of the major challenges in maintaining the strength of the community was engaging young people with the church.
"Possibly the biggest, deepest sadness many Catholics have is that their children and/or their grandchildren don't practice, don't go to church," he said.
"That's not something there's any magic fix to, if there was an easy fix people would have fixed it."
He said he believed the motivations for attending church had changed through the generations.
"We're now in an era of authenticity where people can't do something because they're told to or because it's a rule ... you have to do it because it speaks to your soul, it's got to be spiritual," he said.
"I want to explore with the people and the priests here, what are the roads by which young people are being invited to travel by Jesus?
"If we can discover some of those, that would be great."
Churches have also been forced to look at new ways to practice this year as the coronavirus pandemic keeps churchgoers at home.
Bishop Edwards said a real opportunity had arisen to improve the way the church operates going forward as priests take the time to improve their IT skills and connect with their parishes remotely.
"There's going to be some things we've learned in this period of time and because we've learned them and we can't unlearn them, we'll actually do things differently."
He said the period of isolation had also reinforced the importance of face-to-face interaction and he was looking forward to a time where he could "have a cup of tea with a whole group of people in a room and shake people's hands."
As he awaits his installation, he said he was hoping to visit parishes across the wider diocese, getting to know the communities from Khancoban to Griffith.