Being Part of The Queen’s Visit to Lancaster Castle

duchy11 Dear Friends and followers of this Bishop’s Blog,

Lancaster Castle, Lancashire, UK. View from the tower of St Peter's Cathedral.

Lancaster Castle, Lancashire, UK. View from the tower of St Peter’s Cathedral.

As I made my way on Friday morning, an invited guest, to Lancaster Castle, where Her Majesty – the Duke of Lancaster, Queen Elizabeth, was visiting to mark the 750th anniversary of the establishment of the Duchy of Lancaster, I reflected on the strange and unexpected twists and turns which history can take. duchy6 Until recently, Lancaster Castle functioned as a prison and the rather forbidding building retains much of the character of a prison, certainly within its interior. Today there are guided tours on offer, and what was once a Visitor’s area has now become a cafeteria. duchy10 Lancaster Castle, moreover, will always remain part of the history of Catholicism in Lancaster and Lancashire for less happy reasons, which stand in stark contrast to today’ lovely community occasion graced with the presence of the reigning monarch. Some fifteen of our Lancaster martyrs spent time in Lancaster prison and were tried and condemned to death there, during that sad and turbulent period we know as the Reformation. Others were taken from the Castle to be executed on the Moor further up the hill. duchy9 As the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster, I had the pleasure of meeting and the privilege of being introduced to Queen Elizabeth, together with the other Church leaders and representatives at the Castle. duchy12 I allowed myself the perhaps presumptuous thought that our martyrs, such as Edmund Arrowsmith and Ambrose Barlow, to name but two of many, were smiling down on the royal proceedings from their place in heaven. duchy4 One outstanding characteristic of the Catholic martyrs was their loyalty to the crown and, continuing my musings, I thought how much they would have approved of the Queen being in the city today in a more peaceful age. duchy3 Times indeed do change under the gentle but sure hand of Divine providence, who guides the course of history according to His will and purpose. The transformed atmosphere in the relationships between the different Christian communities, and the mutual acceptance that we are fellow travellers on the same ecumenical journey, is a sign to me that the martyrs did not die in vain. Martryrs They loved the Church and they died for the unity of the Church, and now in God’s wonderful ways, their self-sacrifice is yielding its fruit before God as what once appeared to be insuperable barriers are slowly being dismantled. I also came away from Lancaster Castle full of admiration for Queen Elizabeth, now in the evening of her long reign. Her dedication and witness to the call of monarchy which she answered and embraced so long ago are wholly admirable. duchy13 What a wonderful and exemplary life of service hers has been deserving of respect by us all!  Her Majesty indeed brought smiles to many faces in Lancaster on Friday! Until next week – may God bless you all, +Michael G Campbell OSA Bishop of Lancaster

Celebrating Pentecost Day: The Birthday of the Church

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog for the Feast of Pentecost!


The universal Church celebrates her birthday this Sunday, Pentecost Day, when the Holy Spirit descended in such dramatic fashion upon Christ’s disciples in Jerusalem. While on earth Christ had promised that he would ask the Father to send the Spirit, another Advocate, to befriend them.


This was the outpouring of God’s Spirit long foretold by the ancient prophets of Israel. The Spirit would totally transform Peter and his companions and so began the task of proclaiming to the world the story of Jesus Christ, the crucified and now risen and glorified Son of God. The telling of that story continues to this day.


At this time of the year in particular through the sacrament of Confirmation that same Holy Spirit continues to be poured into the hearts of young believers.


Already this past week, in Preston, I have Confirmed groups in three different churches of the diocese, each occasion being a mini-Pentecost for the young people in question.


They, like the Apostles, are now divinely empowered to witness to Christ, to bring something of the love of Christ to all whom they will meet in their daily lives. Through the anointing with sacred chrism they become in a real if mysterious way ‘other Christs.’


St. Luke recounts how representatives of many nations were gathered in Jerusalem at that time to celebrate a Jewish feast, yet each of them heard the preaching of the Apostles in their own language.


I was reminded of that miracle of Pentecost last Sunday morning when I attended a Syro-Malabar Mass in St. Ignatius’s church, Preston, now in the care of that Church community from Kerala, India. At the close of the Mass I launched, with Bishop Sebastian Vadakel, the new website for the two personal parishes for the Syro-Malabar faithful recently erected in the Diocese.


The Syro-Malabar Church is very ancient and prides itself in its apostolic origins, going back to the apostle Thomas. In full communion with the Roman pontiff, they have their own language and liturgy and are a rich expression of the catholicity of Christ’s Church.


Other ecclesial manifestations of this catholicity would be, for example, the Ukrainian and Armenian Churches, to name but two.  We need to remember that other rites exist alongside the Latin rite which is our particular tradition and ecclesial inheritance here in the West. The wonder of Pentecost still reverberates!


The variety and character of the gifts poured out on the Church through the Holy Spirit are many and diverse. First among these graces are the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity which hold in unity and sustain the Church, the body of Christ.


Each believer is enriched by the presence of the Spirit, and if we could but realise it, through the Spirit indwelling in us we are swept up into the communion of the Father and Son.


The solemnity of Pentecost is a day of joy for reflecting on the many divine blessings we enjoy through being part of Christ’s Church.


Let us pause at some point this weekend and be still as we listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, as he leads us ever deeper into our understanding of who Christ is, and of our dignity as sons and daughters of the Father.


Like the great prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb long ago, may we today be touched by that gentle breeze of the still small voice of calm, which is the descent of God’s Holy Spirit!

A blessed Pentecost to you all!

Until next week – May God bless you all,


+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

At the Ascension & Awaiting the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth!

Dear Friends in Christ,


Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!


The liturgical period between the Ascension of the Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost has long between a time of prayerful waiting and expectation for the Church.

Just before his victorious return to the Father, the Lord Jesus instructed his disciples to remain in Jerusalem until, as he put it, ‘they would be clothed with power from on high.’  The power he was speaking of was, of course, the Holy Spirit.

(c) Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


As is evident from the gospels and the New Testament writings in general, the attitude and action of those first Christians were dramatically transformed by the coming of Christ’s Spirit.



In his account in the Acts of the Apostles St. Luke relates how the disciples had gathered in prayer, with Mary the mother of Jesus in their midst, when the upper room was rocked by a mighty wind and what seemed like tongues of fire came to rest upon all who were there. Almighty God was about to do a new and wonderful thing – the Church for all nations was about to come to birth, with the power and fire of heaven!


During these days leading up to Pentecost numerous groups of believers as well as individuals will pray earnestly to the risen Lord to pour out once more that same Spirit on the Church and on the world. In doing so, they will be following in the footsteps of Our Lady, the Apostles, and those other first disciples two thousand years ago.  The Holy Spirit is the Father’s gift to us which he generously bestows on those who ask him, and it is a gift which we should not be slow to request.

There is rich teaching in Scripture, in both Old and New Testaments, on what the Holy Spirit accomplishes both in the life of the Church as a whole and in that of the individual Christian. The Church has been described as the body of Christ and it is the Holy Spirit which animates and keeps united the members of that body.


It is the Spirit which ensures that the community of believers remains faithful to the teaching of Christ.  Moreover, the Holy Spirit is the supreme teacher, leading the Church ever more deeply into her understanding and appreciation of God’s revelation to us in Christ. And it is the same Holy Spirit who speaks consolingly to our individual hearts, helping us to put on the mind of Christ.


Let us at some point of each day this coming week invoke the Holy Spirit to descend afresh on the Church and on each one of us personally, so that we may play our part, in the words of the ancient Pentecost prayer, in renewing the face of the earth.


As ever in Christ our Lord,


+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

Going on Pilgrimage!

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog.


A long-standing feature of Catholic parish life which many of us will remember was the annual May procession in honour of Our Blessed Lady. In recent decades this custom has somewhat fallen into abeyance, but thankfully is now beginning to make a re-appearance.


Such devotion and open air processions may be seen as a filial act of devotion to the Mother of God by we her adopted children, made all the more pleasant of course by good weather!


In his recent ‘Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy’ our Holy Father, Pope Francis, underlined the place and importance of pilgrimage during this Year of Mercy. Every diocesan cathedral and shrine is to have a special door designated as the gateway through which we pass to God’s mercy. They will be forums of mercy where we can receive indulgences and the Lord’s tender forgiveness.


Certainly, each believer is asked in so far as is possible to make a pilgrimage during this Year of Mercy, either alone or in the company of others. Pilgrimages can be deeply meaningful, even life-changing events.  Whether it be to Lourdes, Rome, Fatima, The Holy Land, Walsingham, or simply somewhere local, a pilgrimage symbolises our desire to take time out from our daily routine and encounter the living God in a holy place.


We live at a particular time when, thanks to social media, we are inundated, even saturated, with news and information of all sorts.

A pilgrimage affords us the opportunity to clear our minds and to breathe more deeply of the Spirit. We are given the time to pause and reflect and, put simply, to enter into our own hearts where the risen Lord speaks to us in a silence which does not require words.


Walking in procession with others, praying, singing hymns, with moments of quiet, allows us to regain a sense of rhythm and order in our often clogged lives. I am always struck by the attraction Lourdes has for so many of our young people.


Here they can join other pilgrims of all ages and be free and at ease to express their Catholic faith in an environment where prayer to God through the intercession of Blessed Mary takes central place.


Our Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes is proving very popular this year – but again it’s not too late to sign up. Lourdes also teaches our youth that illness, frailty, disability, old age, have their place in life and mysteriously their special value in the eyes of God who has a special care for those whom the psalmist calls ‘the poor and needy’.


Don’t forget, too, about our own Diocesan Pilgrimage to the ancient shrine of Ladyewell, which will take place on Saturday 20th June at 2pm.


Please do come along and invite others to join you! Even the shortest and most local of pilgrimages can have a lasting effect.


We may not all be in a position to travel abroad, but a purposeful visit to our parish church can be a very worthwhile personal pilgrimage and an occasion of much grace.


Let each one of us resolve to go on pilgrimage this year or next, whether it be great or small. It may even be life-changing!

Until next week – let us pray for each other.


As ever in Christ our Lord,

+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

Anniversaries & Thanking you for all your prayers and support

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome back to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!


Thursday marked the beginning of the 60th Anniversary celebrations marking the foundation of St. Pius X Preparatory School, Preston. We marked this by celebrating a special Mass in the school hall which was extremely well-attended by local clergy, pupils, staff, governors and parents – both past and present.


The School was founded in 1955 by a group of Catholic Preston businessmen, and prides itself to this day on a well-established tradition and family atmosphere, founded on Catholic Christian values of mutual care and support, and a real sense of personal worth.


I am pleased to share with you here my homily for the occasion:


‘It is surely an occasion of joy and gratitude for a school to mark sixty years of its existence, to recall its beginnings and all that has been accomplished in that time in terms of education, the formation and empowerment of young minds, the transmission of deeply held values which lay foundations for their role in later life. A diamond jubilee is indeed an occasion for celebration.


St. Pius X School is also a Catholic school which gives it a special character, and it takes its place in that long and venerable Catholic tradition which recognises that all knowledge ultimately comes from God and should ultimately lead to God. Catholic education is distinctive because at its heart is the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the supreme teacher.


Jesus came on earth to reveal to us the face of his heavenly Father, who looks with love and care on each individual.  What should shine throughout a Catholic school therefore is the appreciation of the unique value of every child, created in God’s image with an eternal destiny in heaven. The mission statement of St. Pius X does indeed share and embody this vision.


Our first reading this afternoon is part of King Solomon’s great prayer at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, and is a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the construction of this magnificent place of worship.  It is also a prayer of petition, asking both God’s blessing and for the grace of fidelity to his laws and commandments. To leave God out of the picture would be unthinkable and tantamount to embarking on the wrong path. May the teaching and commandments of the Son of God continue to inspire and inform all that takes place here in St. Pius X’s School, for then the way ahead will indeed be assured and be richly blessed.


The gospel we heard captures Mary’s delight at the prospect of becoming the mother of Jesus Christ, and relates how she gives thanks to God in her Magnificat. Our Lady declares that ‘the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name!’  As St. Pius celebrates its diamond jubilee of service and education to the local community, to generations of young people and to the wider Church, I offer my warmest congratulations and pray that it will continue to be blessed by the Lord, whose mercy rests on those who fear him from generation to generation. Amen.’


Yesterday, in fact, marked the day in 2009 when my predecessor Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue retired as the Fifth Bishop of Lancaster and I succeeded him as the Sixth Bishop of this great Diocese.


It was great to be able to meet up with Bishop Patrick for a meal on the anniversary itself and to share together our experiences as bishop of the Diocese and life for us since he left the Diocese to live in Ireland.

MC & PO'D1

The occasion gives me an opportunity to express again what a privilege it is to be Shepherd of this local Church of ours. Thank you for all your prayers and support – especially in times that call for difficult and bold decisions that promise to build up faith for the future.


Let us keep each other in prayer.

God bless you all,


+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

Photos of the St Pius X Mass – courtesy of St Pius X Prep School