In Carlisle: The newly-merged parish of Our Lady of Eden and the new House of Clerics

Dear Friends in Christ,

Two important and significant moments for the Church in Carlisle were marked at a Mass of celebration in Our Lady & St. Joseph’s last Saturday. (My homily is here)


The first was the establishment of a new parish under, appropriately, under the title of Our Lady of Eden, which brought into a single unity Our Lady & St. Joseph’s in Warwick Square, Our Lady & St. Wilfrid’s, Warwick Bridge, and St. Ninian’s, Brampton.


This new parish has the wholehearted support of the Catholics of all three churches, and at the reception afterwards many expressed pleasure at the union of the three communities.


Our Lady of Eden will be blessed in as much as three priests, based at Warwick Square, Carlisle, will be ministering to the parish. The good representation of parishioners at the Mass, which was outstanding for the quality of its liturgy and sacred music, augurs well for the future of the Church in this Northern part of our diocese. May the venture prosper under God!


The second cause for celebration was the canonical erection of a House of Clerics, a fairly recent innovation or perhaps restoration of an ancient practice in these islands. A Press Release is here.


The three priests who are resident at the Rectory in Warwick Square, Carlisle, have agreed to share a common life of public prayer and meals together.


As I observed in my homily at the Mass, we have fewer priests at the present time while the burden of work does not diminish, so a shared priestly life offers mutual support and encouragement in their ministry.


I warmly commend this faith-filled and bold initiative, which also enjoys the approval of recent Popes as is clear from their different addresses to bishops and priests.


What was overall a very pleasing celebration concluded with excellent and generous refreshments on offer in the Waterton parish hall afterwards, named after an outstanding parish priest of yesteryear.


The happiness and optimism which was so evident among the people was, for me, a further indication of the quiet movement of the Holy Spirit nudging the Church (and us!) gently but firmly forward in the ways of the Lord. We have indeed much for which to be grateful!


As ever in Christ our Lord,

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster

Acknowledgement: 3 Photos used from Moreno Berti

Celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes – Our Diocesan Patroness

St Walburge
Dear brothers & Sisters in Christ,

Continuing my visitation of the Preston deanery I spent last weekend in the parish of St. Walburge & Sacred Heart, linked with St. Edmund Campion.


I offered the Saturday evening Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart, where I had the opportunity to meet and talk to the parishioners afterwards.


On Sunday morning I joined the parishioners of St. Edmund Campion, celebrating Mass and chatting with them over refreshments afterwards.


Later I had the pleasure to go to the magnificent St. Walburge’s church for Mass at midday.


This truly striking church, an imposing witness to the Catholic faith of past Preston generations, enjoys Grade I listed status and is a well-known landmark in the city. The beauty and décor of St. Walburge’s certainly help to raise one’s heart and mind to Almighty God, the author of all beauty.


As is customary on Parish Visitation I joined the parish advisory council to listen in to their deliberations and hear some of their aspirations for the future direction of the parish.


In the company of the parish priest, I called on a small number of older parishioners no longer able to get to Sunday Mass. Such visits are invariably a delight, and it is a privilege to witness the deep faith and patient acceptance of the elderly. They have much to teach us!


The day concluded appropriately with a meal shared by the parish priest, the retired parish priest, the deacons
and their wives. It was a pleasing way to draw a busy day to a close.


The Parish Visitation concluded on Monday with a visit to St. Bernard’s Primary School in the morning and to Sacred Heart School in the afternoon. As ever, the children and staff extended a warm welcome to the bishop.


There were reflective assemblies staged in both schools, and I had the opportunity to meet the staff of the schools and offer them a word of thanks and encouragement in their challenging vocation as teachers in Catholic education.


Tuesday, 11th February, was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Patroness of the Diocese of Lancaster.


Our Lady of Lourdes is also the Patroness of the convent of the Augustinian sisters in Boarbank Hall, Grange-over-Sands, so it was highly fitting that the community celebrated the day with the first profession of vows of Sister Florence, who hails originally from Malaysia.<em>(My homily is here)


The presence of her family in traditional dress added a dazzling splash of colour to what was a moving Mass of profession.


I congratulate the Boarbank community on the profession of Sister Florence, with the added prayer that other women will follow in her courageous footsteps and embrace the consecrated life.


Devotion within the diocese to Our Lady of Lourdes is strong, and almost two hundred people gathered on Tuesday evening in the Sacred Heart Church, Blackpool, for a Mass (my homily is here) and short indoor procession in her honour. Given the special place afforded to the sick in Lourdes, we had the sacrament of the anointing of the sick during Mass.


I couldn’t help thinking that Our Lady of Lourdes was smiling on her devotees who braved the cold February evening to attend Mass in her honour on her feast day. Many graces were surely given by the Mother of Christ, and undoubtedly taken away from the Sacred Heart Church on Tuesday evening!

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Until next week – may God bless you all,

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster

Parish Visitation, Schools, Trustees and Preparing for Lourdes


Dear Friends,

My weekend began on Saturday morning with attendance at Lancaster University Court, a very representative body, which meets each year and during which those ultimately responsible for the university (Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor etc., and others) give a general update on the past year, progress achieved, and challenges to the university in the immediate and medium future.


Lancaster University, now celebrating its golden jubilee of foundation, has been fortunate in having the distinguished Sir Chris Bonnington as its Chancellor for the past ten years, and who now completes his tenure. The Diocese of Lancaster has long connections with the University and has invested greatly in the Chaplaincy Centre there over the years so it is with great pleasure to note how the University continues to thrive and hold its own in what have been challenging economic times.


Later on Saturday evening I began Visitation in Preston at the linked parishes of St. Anthony’s, Fulwood, and Holy Family, Ingol. I was present for the Saturday Vigil Masses in both places, speaking briefly at the end, and then celebrated Mass in each church on the Sunday morning.


It was a pleasure to meet and greet with parishioners and the warmth of Catholic welcome for the bishop does cheer the spirits!


Both parishes combined to provide an excellent meal in Ingol at the end of the morning Masses, and the smooth manner in which the parishes have united and cooperated in the last year reflects greatly both on the leadership of the parish priest and the parishioners themselves. All are to be congratulated on their generosity of spirit.


I paid a visit later on Sunday afternoon to a number of senior parishioners now living in sheltered accommodation. Inevitably, as I came away I realised I had gained so much more from these lovely people, many of whom had lived long lives, than I had to give.


It was the turn of the Holy Family and St. Anthony’s school on Monday. There was a tangible warmth of welcome from the staff of both schools, from the children in particular.


I suppose children do not often get the opportunity to meet and talk to the Bishop, and even ask him questions!


The hours spent in Holy Family and St. Anthony’s schools passed all too quickly, and the children of St. Anthony’s brought the day and a pleasing parish Visitation to a close with a thoughtful assembly on the Lord calming the storm.

blackpool waves

Tuesday morning found me in another school, this time Our Lady Star of the Sea, St. Annes-on-Sea. My visit to this excellent Catholic School again passed all too quickly. It was good to meet and share thoughts with the staff, and offer a word of appreciation for all their hard work for the children in their care.


The centrepiece of the morning visit was the beautifully presented assembly on the Annunciation. I was great struck by the dignified manner and prayerfulness of the children taking part in the assembly, as well as the wrapt attention of the remainder of the school and their delight in singing the lovely Marian hymn, ‘As I kneel before You.’ As I remarked, a charming and most satisfying couple of hours passed all too quickly in Star of the Sea School.


Our Diocesan Trustees had their monthly meeting on Tuesday afternoon, and again I express my thanks and deep appreciation to them for their generous commitment of time and skill to the diocesan church of Lancaster.
The approach of the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which falls next Tuesday 11th February, patroness of the diocese of Lancaster, turns our mind to the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes in July.


Our youth pilgrims, both those going for the first time and others who have been on previous Lourdes pilgrimages, met on Thursday evening to start their monthly preparation for this important event in their young lives. It is extremely pleasing to report that over eighty of our youth have signed for this year’s pilgrimage under the auspices of the Diocesan Youth Service, and I met and addressed them as they gathered in Lancaster.


Young people are by nature enthusiastic, but it was impressive to see so many of them take the trouble to travel for this meeting on a cold, wet and dark February evening. I spoke to them about the special, even unique, place that Lourdes was, and of the millions of pilgrims who come each year, with pride of place given to the sick and those with physical and other difficulties of any kind.


I also assured them that Lourdes would be a life-changing experience, perhaps not in the way we understand the term, and that Our Lady does not allow any pilgrimage to leave empty-handed, i.e. without being spiritually blessed.


These monthly preparation gatherings will enable our young people to learn something of the story of Lourdes, about the peasant girl and now a saint, Bernadette, and its abiding attraction for Catholics of all outlooks, and indeed for those of other faiths and those with no religion but who are in search of some meaning and purpose in their lives.


Please keep these young pilgrims in your prayers, as we give thanks to God for their faith and generosity, and wonder at the attraction of pilgrimage which is undoubtedly one of the ‘signs of the times.’


Until next week – All good wishes and prayers,


+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster

Supporting the New Bishop of Plymouth!

Dear Friends,


Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog for this week¬

Many people seem to have appreciated last week’s Blog which focussed on supporting the Christians of the Holy Land.

So this week I post here two videos of our Diocesan Pilgrimage to Holy Land last April. It was a wonderful experience that marked our Year of Faith as a Diocese.


The ordination of a new bishop is invariably an occasion of great joy for a diocese, and the Catholic community of the diocese of Plymouth experienced such a joy when Bishop Mark O’Toole was ordained last Tuesday as the ninth bishop of that diocese.


I joined most of the hierarchy of England & Wales, with several bishops from elsewhere together with many priests, as concelebrants at the Mass of Ordination (a full set of photos are here).


The presence of the Apostolic Nuncio added its own special dimension to the occasion, and the homily was preached by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, under whom Bishop Mark served as secretary and latterly as diocesan seminary rector in the archdiocese of Westminster.


A significant moment in the ordination of a new bishop is the reading of the papal bull of appointment which underlines the bond and communion between the successor of Peter, Pope Francis, and the person appointed as bishop, in this case, Mgr Mark O’Toole.


That union, or communion, existing between the college of bishops and the Pope is a precious gift entrusted to the Church by Christ. It ensures the continuity and authentic nature of the apostolic roots of our faith from one generation to the next, a faith which ultimately derives from the Twelve Apostles and from Christ the Lord himself.


Like every bishop, Bishop O’Toole represents and symbolises the office of Apostle among the community of believers which is his diocese. His teaching will reflect in substance that faith which has come down to us in the Church for the last two millennia, and which will be in harmony with what his brother bishops teach in every part of the world.


During the ceremony of ordination the book of the Gospels is held over the head of the new bishop which again is deeply symbolic, signifying that a bishop’s life and teaching must be rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Christ as contained in the four gospels.


The oil of chrism is also poured on the head of the new bishop by the ordaining prelate, in this case his predecessor Bishop Christopher Budd. This ancient rite of oil, deriving from the high priesthood of ancient biblical times, is a sign of consecration and of the fullness of the priesthood conferred on a bishop. By his life and ministry the new bishop will realise and make present in the midst of his people Christ, the one High Priest of us all.


The presentation of the crozier, or staff, to the newly ordained bishop, adds a further rich biblical dimension to the meaning of his office. He is to shepherd his people with care and love, after the manner of Christ the Good Shepherd.


The ordination rite concludes with the new bishop taking possession of his cathedra or seat, a further symbol and indication of his authority as the teacher of the faith in his diocese.

There follows immediately afterwards a moment of joy when all the concelebrating bishops exchange the sign of peace and fraternity with the new bishop. He has, as it were, acquired a new family of episcopal brothers!


Bishop Mark will surely long remember this day when a packed Plymouth cathedral welcomed him as their ninth bishop. He has much to look forward to and has the prayers and good wishes of so many as he begins his Episcopal ministry, not least from his brother bishops in the episcopate. Ad multos annos, Bishop Mark!


My own travels took me literally to the other end of the country the following evening, Wednesday, to St. Cuthbert’s Church, Wigton, Cumbria, where I had the joy of conferring the sacrament of Confirmation on a group of young people.


By way of contrast to the splendid liturgy of a bishop’s ordination in Plymouth cathedral the previous day, this was a much more intimate occasion but no less joyful and grace-filled. The family, friends and parishioners gathered in the lovely church of St. Cuthbert to witness and be part of the Mass of Confirmation.


It was yet another example of the local Church at prayer; praying for the young people as they reached maturity in the faith through anointing with the Holy Spirit.


It was reassuring to recall that the same Holy Spirit invoked upon Bishop Mark O’Toole the previous day in Plymouth cathedral was also invoked upon the young people of Cumbria in their parish church as, like Bishop Mark, they entered upon a new phase of their faith journey. The happy atmosphere spilled over into the reception and refreshments afterwards. God’s Holy Spirit, I mused, is indeed at work at all times and in all places!


Until next week – may God bless you all,

+Michael G Campbell OSA

    Bishop of Lancaster

(Photos of Plymouth Ordination – Marcin Mazur/CBCEW)