Back from ICEL Meetings in Washington!

Dear Friends in Christ!


Welcome back to this week’s rather brief Bishop’s Blog – as I have been travelling!


This last week I was in Washington in the United States, as part of the Editorial Committee of ICEL where we continue with the, rather painstaking, practical work of renewing the translations of our Roman rite liturgical books from the original Latin to English.


Of course, I say ‘painstaking’ because it is always a struggle to be faithful to the original Latin text, and at the same time to come up with a translation which is in workable and understandable English!  Your prayers for this delicate work at the service of the Church are always appreciated.


The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is a mixed commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite. The purpose of the Commission is to prepare English translations of each of the Latin liturgical books and any individual liturgical texts in accord with the Holy See’s Instruction Liturgiam authenticam.


Eleven Conferences of Bishops are currently full members of ICEL. They are: Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, Southern African, and the United States of America. In addition, there are fifteen other Conferences of Bishops where English is used in the Liturgy to a lesser extent, though they have access to liturgical texts prepared by ICEL.


When an ICEL translation has been completed and approved by the Bishops of the Commission, it is sent to the Member and Associate-Member Conferences for their consideration. Later the Holy See will be asked to give its recognitio before publishing takes place.


Meanwhile, last Sunday saw the arrival of the Bishop-Elect Joseph Srampickal, the new Eparch for the Syro-Malabars in Great Britain and there was a great crowd to welcome him into Manchester Airport. Later that day Bishop-Elect Srampickal celebrated his first Mass in his new Cathedral of St Alphonsa (St Ignatius church, Preston).  Again, I understand the Cathedral church was healthily full and afterwards the Bishop-Elect was greeted by many of his new flock.


We continue to keep Bishop-elect Srampickal and the newly established Eparchy of the Syro-Malabar faithful in our prayers – ready for the Episcopal Consecration and Dedication of the new cathedral on Sunday 9 October 2016.


This last week, the Bishop-Elect has been busy visiting Syro-Malabar Mass centres, priests and people, as well as Latin-rite Bishops here with whom he will collaborate, around England, Wales and Scotland. I look forward to meeting with him myself in the week ahead.


This week on Tuesday 27 September 2016 at 12.15pm, I am celebrating the Closing Mass for the Year of Priestly Vocations at Lancaster Cathedral.  Please do come along and support us.  I know so many of you are keeping our priests, seminarians and those discerning their vocation, in your daily prayers.  Thank you for this.


Until next week,


May God bless you!


Our Annual Pilgrimage to Cleator


Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog – my weekly opportunity to share with you something of my ministry as Bishop of Lancaster.


Each year, on the Sunday closest to Our Lady’s birthday St. Mary’s parish in Cleator, West Cumbria, hosts a pilgrimage to the Lourdes grotto situated in their extensive church grounds.


A large crowd of pilgrims from the Diocese of Lancaster and beyond gather for what is always a worthwhile spiritual occasion, and this year was no exception.


As bishop, it was good to be part of this pilgrimage and to mingle and greet afterwards the many who made the journey to be there.


The presence of a group of our young people from across the Diocese who set out from our youth centre at Castlerigg Manor the day before to join the pilgrimage was much appreciated. The heart of the pilgrimage is the celebration of Mass followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.


The prevailing weather on the day usually determines if we can have the Mass outside or in the lovely St. Mary’s church, originally designed by one of the Pugin family. The strong wind and damp ground meant that we were inside the church this year.


Priests from the local deanery and those having associations with Cleator parish joined me in the concelebrated Mass.


It was obvious to me at the conclusion of the Mass on Sunday just how happy people are to be part of a pilgrimage, be it for a brief afternoon or perhaps for a longer period.


There is a sense of satisfaction in people coming together as a faith community, in a holy place dedicated to Our Lady, and where petitions are made, prayers heard and answered, all within the context of the greatest and most powerful prayer we have – the sacrifice of the Mass.


In this Year of Mercy we were also made aware in a particular way of God’s infinite mercy which reaches out and touches each single one of us.


A pilgrimage allows us to catch a glimpse of our true worth before God, that each one of us does matter, and that our seemingly small and ordinary concerns are God’s as well.


Underlying all of this is the sense that we belong to the Church and form part of something bigger.


We leave a pilgrimage with a sense of our faith being renewed, and perhaps a little like Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, we can in truth say “It is good for us to be here!”  So we took our leave of Cleator at the end of our short pilgrimage with a quiet but deep sense of satisfaction.



We were encouraged in our faith and, hopefully, offered some encouragement to our brothers and sisters in the faith.


Most important of all, we came away as pilgrims with the conviction that we had encountered the risen Lord in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread, as did those two disciples on the first Easter Sunday afternoon on the road to Emmaus.

Until next week – may God bless you all,


+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster


Honouring Our Lady for her Birthday!

My dear friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!


A feature of Catholic parish life nowadays is Mass with the anointing of the sick, which takes place usually once or twice each year. Last Saturday afternoon, together with the Cathedral Dean, I anointed many of the sick members of the Cathedral parish, Lancaster.

Bishop anointing a sick person (Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Many older Catholics will recall a time when such anointing was restricted to those who were very ill, and often close to death. The Sacrament of the Sick is now more widely available, and those who suffer from serious and chronic illnesses, be it mental or physical, avail of this sacrament when they have the opportunity. The Mass with the anointing of the sick is always a highlight of our Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes.


We need to remember that that, together with Reconciliation/Penance, the Sacrament of the Sick is a healing sacrament. Christ the healer comes to the sick and troubled, laying his hands on them and through his ministers anointing them with blessed oil.


The sick receive this sacrament, I find, with much reverence and devotion, conscious that this is a very significant moment in their life of faith. An atmosphere of peace and reassurance pervaded last Saturday’s cathedral Mass, with the quiet assurance that Christ the Saviour had once again walked among his faithful people.


The tradition of remembering and praying for the dead has deep roots in our Catholic tradition. Such a tradition is alive and well in Our Lady and St. Michael’s parish, Alston Lane, close to Longridge and adjacent to the Diocese of Salford.  On the afternoon of the first Sunday of September the parish has its ‘Cemetery Sunday Mass’, offered for those buried in the well-maintained graveyard beside the church, and for all who have died in the course of the past year.


A remarkable number of people gather for this annual Mass and subsequent blessing of the graves, and as I said the Mass I was struck by the prayerful and reflective atmosphere which marked the occasion as the faithful departed were respectfully remembered and prayed for.


On Thursday, 8th September, the Church celebrated the Birthday of Our Blessed Lady, a feast which reminds us that Mary had a mother and father, like all of us, and was born into an ordinary devout Jewish family, as a member of the people of Israel. According to tradition, Mary’s parents were Joachim and Anne, though we don’t know much more about them.


Our Lady’s willingness and openness to God’s call in her life suggests that she had a solid religious upbringing, was well-taught in the history and traditions of her people, and had achieved a level of maturity in her faith to embrace what the angel Gabriel was asking of her at the moment of the Annunciation.


Mary’s great song of praise and thanksgiving to God, which we know as the Magnificat and in which she marvels at the wonderful ways of God, when He raises up the humble and those considered unimportant, also indicates that she herself came from a very modest background with little of the wealth of this world.


Furthermore, the town of Nazareth where Mary came from enjoyed no great reputation, in fact it was rather looked down upon, hence the comment in John’s gospel ‘can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ (Jn.1:46).  Catholics, and many other believers, are drawn to the Mother of the Lord, irrespective of their status in society, be it important or otherwise, and they feel they can identify with the young girl from Nazareth who would become the Mother of Jesus, the world’s saviour.


Apart from the well-known Marian shrines within the Catholic world, such as Lourdes, Fatima, Walsingham, Knock, Guadalupe etc, Mary is revered and honoured in countless other churches, chapels and oratories all over the world.


Our Lady holds a treasured place in our affection for we know that we can count on her prayers and power of intercession with her Son. The thought of her birthday should bring a smile to our face, and bring home to us yet again the wonder of God’s Son becoming one of us, and how Mary of Nazareth, the handmaid of the Lord, by her greatness of faith played such a part in making it all possible.


Until next week – let us pray for one another.

As ever in Christ,


+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

Back after the summer!

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome back – after the summer – to the Bishop’s Blog!

It seems a long time since I last posted on the Blog – since the wonderful news of the Vatican’s  establishment of the new Syro-Malabar Eparchy (Diocese) of Great Britain, with its seat in Preston and its own Bishop (Elect) Mar Joseph Srampickal.


Its wonderful to think that the city of Preston will have, at last, its own Cathedral of St Alphonsa – at St Ignatius Church.


We keep this initiative and the new Bishop in our prayers!


The Lancaster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, which took place in the last week of July, somehow now seems much more distant than that.


A number in excess of two hundred and fifty pilgrims, mostly from the diocese, converged in Lourdes for what turned out to be a peaceful, happy, and spiritually satisfying week spent together at Our Lady’s shrine.


Since our Lourdes pilgrimage coincided with World Youth Day, most of our young people/helpers were in Lourdes for the first time and greatly enjoyed the experience of pilgrimage.

Back17Many of them have become good friends and will certainly return in years to come.


The cheerfulness and generosity of young people in caring for those frail and less mobile pilgrims never fails to impress, and this year was no exception.


Early in our Lourdes pilgrimage, being the Year of Mercy, as a group we passed through the door of mercy at St. Michael’s gate, to the far end of the demesne.

Door of Mercy

The apparently simple act of passing through the specially erected structure, together with the ritual of sprinkling themselves with water proved to be an emotional and deeply significant moment for many of our pilgrims.



Entering through the door of mercy fittingly set the tone for the remainder of the pilgrimage, with an enhanced awareness of almighty God boundless mercy and willingness to forgive us our faults.


The week passed quickly, as it always seems to do in Lourdes. There were many visits to the grotto where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette, and one highlight was our diocesan Mass there.


To be together at the grotto as a diocesan family for Mass has its own special atmosphere, and will be a treasured memory for pilgrims as they perhaps reflect on their pilgrimage during the days and months ahead.


The success of our pilgrimage in no small measure is due to the hard work of the Lourdes committee and numerous others who work so diligently throughout the year. They deserve our deepest thanks.


We all returned from Lourdes richly blessed by the Lord, his Mother and St. Bernadette. We are better for having been there and forming part of that great wave of prayer from countless pilgrims which rises before the throne of God.


Next year marks the 90th anniversary of the very first Lancaster Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1927.


I went on another and different kind of pilgrimage last Sunday, this time to Whithorn in South West Scotland, near Wigtown. The area is closely associated with the bishop Saint Ninian who lived in the fourth/fifth centuries, about whom little definite is known, but whose memory persists, particularly in the Catholic Diocese of Galloway, which borders on our own diocese.


What little we do know about Ninian suggests that he was a bishop at Whithorn and the surrounding area, and a cave on the beach still bears his name.


Each year, on the last Sunday of August, pilgrims make their way from the village of Whithorn along a forest path to the beach near the Saint’s cave, where Mass is said. I joined a retired Bishop of Galloway, Bishop Maurice Taylor, and priests from the locality for Mass, (the present Bishop, William Nolan (pictured below), is recovering from illness – our prayers for him).



A heavy shower of rain was accepted with good grace by the pilgrims and hardly dampened their enthusiasm, who numbered in excess of five hundred, and by the close of Mass the weather had relented, allowing us to return along a muddy path to the car park, though hardly dry-shod like those Israelites of old crossing the Red Sea!


How the idea of pilgrimage continues, and still attracts believers to set out on a journey of faith, be it great or small.  I reflected at Whithorn how this saint from so long ago, and of whom we know so little, continues to draw Catholics and others to the place where he lived, ministered as a bishop and encountered Christ.


These pilgrims, myself included, departed from this remote spot satisfied and content. This was a Sunday well-spent; we gathered, in Bishop Taylor’s words, as an ecclesial community to pray, worship and offer Mass.

I personally will recall with pleasure my first pilgrimage to Whithorn as the summer now passes. St. Ninian will no doubt remember us from his place in heaven as we retraced in faith the place of his footsteps on earth.



As ever in Christ,

+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster