This week: Birmingham, Preston and a Priestly Jubilee!


Dear Friends in Christ,


Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

I joined many of the Bishops of England & Wales, and from further afield, on Tuesday in St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham for the Episcopal ordination of Fr. Robert Byrne as a new auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, at which the chief-consecrator was the Archbishop, Bernard Longley.


The lovely and imposing cathedral was filled with bishops, priests and people for the Mass of Ordination. 


Bishop Byrne is a member of the Congregation of the Oratory, the same Congregation to which Blessed Cardinal Newman belonged, so in a sense it was fitting that an Oratorian priest should become a bishop in Birmingham where the great man spent so many years of his priestly life.


The influence and memory of this great English Cardinal and now Blessed remains strong, not least in the Midlands, and he was no stranger in his own lifetime to St. Chad’s Cathedral where a fellow Oratorian has now been ordained bishop.


I suspect his Eminence from his place in heaven permitted himself a smile as he watched the liturgy of ordination unfold there on Tuesday.  


We wish Bishop Byrne every blessing as he begins his Episcopal ministry for the faithful of Birmingham, and he will surely enjoy the wonderful patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman and that most attractive saint and founder of the Oratorians, St. Philip Neri.


The significance to us of doors and entrances was brought home to me on Friday morning as I blessed the newly constructed entrance to St. Maria Goretti Catholic Primary School in East Preston. The wonderful warm sunshine meant that the whole school could gather in the area opposite the new entrance and join in the service of blessing.


The aspirations expressed in the prayers of intercession read by the pupils asked that the school entrance would welcome all who passed through it, and that it may be the doorway to a place of learning as well as mutual care and respect.


I sprinkled the doorway and entrance with holy water invoking God’s protection and blessing and the presence of Christ, the teacher of us all.  We all pass through many doors in the course of our lives, and a very important one is the doorway to a school.


May the community of St. Maria Goretti’s Primary School continue to be a place of welcome and learning for all who enter it!


I then made the short journey through Preston to Blessed Cardinal Newman College where I offered Mass for those leaving the college on the completion of their examinations. My homily is here.


Cardinal Newman College has upwards of two thousand five hundred students on its roll and has developed into a fine sixth form campus over the years, enhanced yesterday by the fine sunshine and well maintained grounds.


The Mass took place in the attractive school chapel, once the convent chapel of the FCJ Sisters, known as Larkhill Convent School.  I received a warm welcome from all whom I met, both staff and students, and it was pleasure to visit this state of the art Catholic college.


Not too many priests are blessed to arrive at their diamond jubilee of ordination, so there was great joy in the united parish of Milnthorpe and Arnside on Friday evening when Mgr. Frank Slattery (pictured below with the Chapter on the front row – far right) celebrated his sixtieth year of priesthood in Christ the King Church, Milnthorpe.


Many friends and brother priests joined Mgr Slattery for what was a moving and joyful Mass of Thanksgiving, with the chief-celebrant being the jubilarian himself. In the course of his homily Mgr Slattery reflected on the changes and events both in the world and in the Church he has witnessed during those sixty years. He expressed great gratitude to the Lord for his priestly vocation and for the privilege of ministering to his people. 


On behalf of the diocese and the wider Church I offered a brief word of sincere thanks to Monsignor for his long years of priestly loyalty, with the wish that there may be others to follow the example of his steadfast commitment to a priestly vocation. Ad multos annos, Mgr Slattery!


Until next week – may God bless you all,

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster