Remembering Bishop Brian Noble

Dear friends,

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


News will have reached many of you concerning the death of Bishop Brian Noble, Emeritus Bishop of Shrewsbury Diocese, and originally a priest of the Lancaster Diocese. May he rest in peace after his generous ministry.During my own years as a priest in Lancaster I only met Brian twice. Each meeting was by chance and was brief in nature. Having said that, he struck me as a gentleman, kind and encouraging. As the Good Lord would have it, I saw far more of him once I became Bishop. These more recent encounters served to confirm for me +Brian’s personal qualities as a deeply committed servant of the Lord.His later years were marked with poor health, having a titanic struggle with cancer whilst still in office. He showed us that such illness can be put at the service of the Gospel if accepted in the right spirit. Thankfully for us he was given a reprieve and continued up to and beyond retirement, still pastorally active.Many of you would know him far better than me, and your grief will be all the deeper for that. +Brian believed in the power of Christ’s resurrection and the forgiveness of sin. He knew that we are called to enjoy a life with God far beyond the reach of sin. His strong personal faith remains a great comfort to us all, not just as something to lighten our grief here and now, but also to lift us above the gravity of this life towards the bright promise of Life Eternal.Eternal rest grant unto him, O, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Until next time, may you know the closeness of the Lord, and enjoy His blessing.


Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

Contemplating our Mission

Dear friends in Christ of Lancaster Diocese and beyond!

Welcome to Bishop’s Blog!

You can tell that this Blog is only likely to be an ‘occasional’ publication.
After an eventful summer we are now in the beginnings of autumn, a magnificent season, with its distinct character. It stirs us to reflect back on the passing year and yet look forward, often with some apprehension, towards the cold, dark days of winter. But beauty can be found there too.October is a month we have been asked to keep as an Extra-ordinary Missionary Month, remembering the work of Mission at the heart of Christ’s Church. I invite you to use this month more for reflection than for activity. The activity can follow as a fruit of reflection, and will hopefully be all the richer and more generous for it. Do visit the website of Missio.At the end of September I led the diocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham, our National Marian Shrine, tucked away in the Norfolk countryside, an enchanting place. Along with many regular pilgrims we welcomed some new faces, making their first Pilgrimage to Walsingham.It is a long drive, especially for those who live in West Cumbria, but the Pilgrimage is planned in such a way as to offer time for that essential quiet and stillness that seems in such short measure in many lives. The intentions of the Diocese were presented before Our Lady of Walsingham at Mass on her Feast Day. Mgr.Armitage has worked wonders to up-grade the accommodation and facilities.Early next year we will welcome the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to the Cathedral in Lancaster as part of a tour of all the Cathedrals in England. This is in preparation for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary, an ancient title of devotion. I recommend you visit the shrine website for more information.Looking ahead, we are eagerly preparing for the Canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman. I am fortunate to be travelling to Rome to be present at the Mass of Canonisation. Undoubtedly, he is a gift to us from the Lord.He is given to us at this particular moment in our individual lives and as a Church. I am delighted that several members of staff will be making the journey to Rome from Cardinal Newman College in Preston.

So much more could go into this, but perhaps that is enough for now.
With my prayers and blessing,

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

My Pastoral Letter for the Extraordinary Month of Mission October 2019


from the Bishop of Lancaster

for the Extraordinary Month of Mission October 2019

Baptised and sent

Appointed to be read at all Masses in the Diocese of Lancaster

on the weekend of 5/6 October 2019


My dear People,
The Extraordinary Month of Mission (EMM) is a special month of prayer and action called by Pope Francis to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter on overseas mission, Missio Ad Gentes.
It aims to respond to the ongoing, urgent call to bear witness to Jesus Christ to all the nations. It also, brings Catholics to a deeper awareness of their responsibility to evangelise.It aims to renew missionary commitment throughout the Church, sent by Christ to reveal the love of God to all nations.
It aims to re-found and reshape Missio (also known as the Pontifical Mission Societies or PMS), in accordance with the demands of the Gospel.
At the request of the Missio Assembly of National Directors, the Holy Father approved the EMM on 31 March 2017, for the whole month of October 2019.
The Holy Father wants it to be an opportunity for reflection, prayer and support for the whole Church with specific regard to Missio Ad Gentes.
The Overseas Mission Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), has asked Missio to coordinate all activities related to the EMM. Missio will be at the service of the Church in England and Wales, providing expertise, materials and help to parishes.

For the four weeks of October 2019, four themes have been approved by the Holy Father:
1. A personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in his Church.
2. The witness of missionary saints and martyrs.
3. Biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological formation for mission.
4. Missionary charity as a commitment to support the Church’s missionary activity and communities too poor to support themselves, through Missio.It is my wish to encourage us all to reflect on our work as missionary disciples. I am very much aware of the burdens constantly put on our priests, parishes and schools. My desire is for each parish to take up this EMM as you find yourself able. Primarily, let it be a time for reflection. I ask priests and deacons to build the given themes and aims of EMM into your homilies throughout the month. My personal hope is that we will come to appreciate more the privilege we have in sharing the salvific mission of Christ.

May the Lord bless you all, and help you to keep it simple!


Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster

More information can be found at
During October, Pope Francis invites everyone to join the EMM2019 Universal Prayer Chain, in solidarity and love for all people.
Who? Everyone, everywhere, all over the world is invited to pray the official EMM 2019 prayer.
When? Every Friday after the Angelus at 12noon, throughout the month of October.
Why? Through praying together, we will revitalise and reawaken our missionary spirit.

Universal Prayer
God our Father, when your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he commissioned his followers to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.
Through our Baptism you send us out to continue this mission among all peoples.
Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and enthusiastic in bearing witness to the Gospel, so that the mission entrusted to us, which is still far from completion, may bring life and light to the world.
May all peoples experience the saving love and generous mercy of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.