Bishop’s Blog: Visiting Pastures Old and New!

My dear Friends  in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

The Fifth Sunday of Lent saw me on Visitation to Scorton and Garstang. Back amongst family and old friends it was a Visitation like no other, the congregation full of ghosts – welcome ghosts! These parishes will be affected along with all the rest in some way as our circumstances change. What the Lord will make of us is in His hands. During the Visitation we were able to pray for Mgr Tully who served for many years as PP in Scorton. He died peacefully in a Grange Care Home the following Monday. Fr.David Elder, for many years PP at Garstang, has recently received sad news concerning his own health. Even so, much good work remains to be done in whatever time the Lord will give. Monday evening I was in Preston as a guest speaker at an ecumenical gathering at the Central Methodist church. This would be the last in a series of Lenten talks. Mine was entitled; ‘How well do you know the wilderness?’I marked the first anniversary of my Episcopal Ordination by celebrating Mass at St.Mary’s Seminary, Oscott. During Mass the Ministries of Lector and Acolyte were conferred on some of the seminarians. Following Mass a splendid meal was enjoyed in the refectory. Such an occasion was plenty of food for thought and reflection since I was at Ushaw seminary in the 1970s receiving these same Ministries. It marked part of the journey to here. We grow closer to the Lord sometimes slowly and sometimes it seems to be in leaps and bounds. The approach to Holy Week can be similar each year but should find us closer than before. Oscott certainly gave me a sense of having moved on, as I considered these young men in their early years of formation.The following morning Stuart, one of our Diocesan seminarians gave me an early lift to the local Railway Station. I was on my way to London for a meeting. Besides having care of their particular Diocese each Bishop is given additional responsibilities in some department of the Bishops’ Conference. Mine is with International Affairs and Missio.The Conference has been linked with the Church in Sudan and South Sudan for several years, as an expression of solidarity and accompaniment in the midst of their on-going national turmoil. I look forward to my first visit in the autumn, taking over from Bishop Bill Kenney of Birmingham.

And now on the eve of Holy Week, our parishes are prepared for the most solemn Liturgies of the year. Little is needed by way of preaching if the Liturgies are followed faithfully.

Sincerest good wish and prayers for Holy Week,


Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster