Catholic Herald Reporters SHREWSBURY, Wednesday STEEPED in history and tradition the ancient border town of Shrewsbury with its narrow streets, its colourful
medieval black-and-white timber-framed buildings, and its picturesque Catholic cathedral overlooking the River Severn, today provided a perfect setting for the consecration of Mgr. Eric Grasar as eighth bishop of Shrewsbury.
Inside the cathedral, one of the smallest but loveliest postReformation cathedral buildings in Britain, the scene was one of colour and splendour. Archbishop Grimshaw of Birmingham, assisted by Archbishop Murphy of Cardiff, whom the new bishop is succeeding in Shrewsbury, and Bishop Ellis of Nottingham, performed the ceremony of examination and consecration.
Seven other Bishops included sent, including Cardinal Godfrey's personal representative, Bishop Cashman, auxiliary of Westminster. The others were Bishop Petit of Menevia; Bishop Restieaux of Plymouth; Bishop Dwyer of Leeds; Bishop Foley of Lancaster; Bishop Bright, auxiliary to the Archbishop of Birmingham; and Bishop Pearson of Sinda.
Over 300 canons, priests, nuns, and members of various religious orders, attended the consecration ceremony as well as members of Mgr. Grasar's family — including his brother, Mr. Bernard Grasar, and his sister, Miss Monica Grasar (a lecturer at St. Mary's Training College, at Hollywood, Belfast). More than 60 people came from Nottingham, many of them from Mgr. Grasar's former parish of St. Paul's; a further 22 came from Scunthorpe where he was born. How different it all was from that day in July 1851 when the founder-bishop of the Shrewsbury diocese, Dr. James Brown, was consecrated at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, by Cardinal Wiseman, probably before a mere handful of people and under the threat of being lynched by antiCatholics, hostile to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales. When Bishop Brown was consecrated, the Shrewsbury diocese consisted of Cheshire, Shropshire, and all the Welsh counties of Anglesey, Caernarvon, Denbigh, Flint, Merioneth and Montgomery.
To serve the whole of this area with an estimated Catholic population of 20,000, there were only 26 secular and seven Regular priests, with 30 chapels and churches, six stations, and one convent at Birkenhead.
Today, 111 years later, the new Bishop of Shrewsbury inherits a re-shaped diocese with a Catholic population of 170,000 served by 115 parish churches and public chapels. There are also 27 private chapels, as well as a vigorous Travelling Mission. There are currently 111 candidates for the priesthood although the diocese has no seminary of its own.
Bishop Grasar's motto: Sery us taus ego (I am your servant) speaks for itself.