Yesterday the Archdiocese of Birmingham rejoices at the episcopal ordinations of two new auxiliary bishops.
The Episcopal Ordination Mass for Bishops David Evans and Stephen Wright took place today at noon in St Chad’s Cathedral, on the Feast of St John Henry Newman. This may well be the first time that two bishops have been ordained together in St Chad’s Cathedral.
Archbishop Bernard Longley was principal consecrator, joined by Bishop William Kenney and Bishop David McGough alongside Bishop Patrick McKinney, Mar Joseph Srampickal and Bishop David Oakley.
The Archbishop welcomed all who attended the Mass, both in person and via the livestream, saying: “we are truly united in prayer for our two ordinands.”
In his homily, Archbishop Bernard said:
“Today’s celebration is truly notable on several counts. It is a moment of exceptional joy for the life of our Archdiocese to receive from the Holy Father the gift of two new bishops who will serve the clergy and the whole People of God”
On the Feast of St John Henry Newman, Archbishop Bernard further said: “Another very significant feature of today’s ordination is that it is the first time since his Canonisation last October in Rome that we have celebrated the Feast day of St John Henry Newman. Not only by his teaching, but also by the example of his priestly ministry he offers a model for everyone ordained to serve in the Church today.
“The bishop’s ministry of teaching, sanctifying and governing after the heart of Christ is illustrated in one of Cardinal Newman’s sermons reflecting on the ministry of St Paul:
“He loved his brethren, not only “for Jesus’ sake” but, to use his own expression, for their own sake also. He lived with them and for them; he was anxious about them; he gave them help, and in turn he looked for comfort from them. His mind was like some instrument of music, harp or viol, the strings of which vibrate, though untouched, by the notes which other instruments give forth, and he was ever, according to his own precept, “rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them that wept”; and thus he was the least magisterial of all teachers, and the gentlest and most amiable of all rulers.
“Cardinal Newman’s evocative reference to the strings of the harp reflects his own capacity for empathy and he explained in a letter to John Keble in October 1865 why he regarded this as such a central Christian virtue: The first duty of charity is to try to enter into the mind and feelings of another.”
Read the full homily here:
The ordination was accompanied by music provided by Professor David Saint and the Cathedral Choir, congregational singing of course not being possible for the time being.
Bishop Stephen said:
“Thank you to everyone who has participated in this Mass of Ordination, the limited number of people here at St. Chad’s Cathedral and all who have prayed via the live stream or offered prayers at work or elsewhere. My thanks to everyone who helped prepare the safe and generous welcome here at St. Chad’s and helped prepare and celebrate the Mass of Ordination.
“I am very grateful for the very generous words of support and prayers since I was appointed an Assistant Bishop back in March. Please do keep me in your prayers, I need them.
“It is a joy and privilege to offer an unworthy ‘yes’ to God’s call to serve as an Assistant Bishop. I hope to serve the pastoral area to the best of my ability relying on God’s grace. I realise, in light of the pandemic, what I am able to offer in terms of a physically present ministry is more restricted than I would want it to be. That said, and being responsible about necessary precautions, I intend to get to know the parishes, schools, people and clergy in Staffordshire and the Black Country in the months ahead as well as work with the wider community.
“We all pray the COVID 19 pandemic will pass soon and we pray for all who have suffered, who have died and have been bereaved.
“I am very grateful for the kindness, generosity and wisdom of Archbishop Bernard. I look forward to continue to learn from him and work with him in my new ministry. I share everyone’s thanks to Bishop David McGough who has served the Staffordshire and the Black Country Pastoral Area so faithfully and generously over the last fifteen years. I am blessed to be able to seek his wisdom and experience.
“I look forward to working with Bishop William and my Episcopal Twin, Bishop David Evans as an Assistant Bishop and working alongside all the clergy and People of God in serving our communities. It has been a joy to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese serving Parish Communities for the last twenty years. I pray God will continue to bless me with joy as a Bishop.”
Bishop David added:
“I am honoured to have been chosen as auxiliary bishop of Birmingham, and delighted to have been ordained with Bishop Stephen.
“I am looking forward to working with Archbishop Bernard and to continuing to support the priests, deacons and parishioners of the Deaneries of Birmingham and Worcestershire.
“It is also encouraging to have been ordained on the feast day of St John Henry Newman. I ask his prayers and yours.”
Bishop David Evans now has pastoral responsibility for the Deaneries of Birmingham and of Worcestershire.
Bishop Stephen Wright now has pastoral responsibility for the Deaneries of Staffordshire and the Black Country.
Please pray for our new bishops, we wish them every blessing.