A SOLEMN MASS was offered in thanksgiving for Bishop Bernard Longley’s ministry as auxiliary bishop in Westminster at Westminster Cathedral on November 20.
Bishop Longley was named the ninth Archbishop of Birmingham on October 1. He will be installed as Archbishop of Birmingham at the Cathedral of St Chad on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
He succeeds Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who served at Birmingham from 2000 to 2009.
At the start of Mass Bishop Longley expressed gratitude to all those present. These included Cardinal Cormac MurphyO’Connor, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Auxiliary Bishop John Arnold, Bishop Alan Hopes and Bishop George Stack and over 80 clergy of the Archdiocese of Westminster.
He also greeted ecumenical guests, who included the Rt Rev Peter Wheatley, Bishop of Edmonton; the Venerable Dr Lyle Dennen, the Archdeacon of Hackney, and the Rev Pat Took, the Superintendent of the Baptist Church.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols paid tribute in his homily to Bishop Longley’s work in the diocese and highlighted his unfailing kindness, courtesy and sensitivity.
“The bonds between us will last,” said Archbishop Nichols, “and are deepened in this celebration of the Mass, through which God’s hand holds us fast and through which His love is pulled into our hearts.” After receiving news of his appointment in October Bishop Bernard Longley said: “I feel immensely honoured and very humbled that the Holy Father has appointed me to succeed Archbishop Vincent Nichols as Archbishop of Birmingham. I look forward to serving the priests and deacons, the religious and all the people of the archdiocese and to working alongside my brother bishops there.
“I also look forward to knowing and appreciating the life of the diocese and the many ways in which it reaches out with the love and truth of Christ.
“I am grateful to Bishop William Kenney for his faithful service as diocesan administrator over recent months and for the welcome that he has already shown to me.
“It won’t be easy to leave the Diocese of Westminster which has been my home for the past seven years.
“It will be sad to say goodbye, especially to the east and central London parishes where the priests, parishioners and religious have become good friends.
“It has been a privilege to work with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and my fellow auxiliary bishops and more recently with Archbishop Vincent.”