BY ED WEST
AN AUGUSTININAN friar was ordained as the coadjutor Bishop of Lancaster on Monday at a packed ceremony in the city’s St Peter’s Cathedral.
At the ceremony Bishop Michael Campbell, who was appointed in February, quoted St Augustine: “ ‘For you I am a bishop; with you I am a Christian.’ I ask for your prayers as I begin my ministry as a bishop.” The ceremony was attended by two cardinals, 32 bishops and more than 200 priests and deacons, with hundreds of guests from around the diocese and beyond.
Bishop Campbell was ordained by the man he will succeed, Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, who was assisted by Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool and Bishop Brian Noble of Shrewsbury, both of whom were formerly priests in the Lancaster diocese.
The ordination had particular historical significance, as it was the first time an Augustinian friar had been ordained bishop in England since the Reformation, and the first time in almost half a century that a bishop had been ordained in St Peter’s.
Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, the papal ambassador, gave an address in which he spoke of Bishop Campbell’s “homecoming”. Fr Campbell had worked in the diocese for over a decade before being appointed to Westminster in 1999. Addressing the new bishop directly, Archbishop Munoz said: “You were ordained priest here, you taught here, and you have many friends here.” In his homily Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor spoke of Bishop Campbell’s ordination and the “mixed feelings” he had. There was “joy at Bishop Campbell’s ordination but sorrow at losing him as a priest in the diocese of Westminster”.
Born in Larne, Co Antrim, Michael Campbell made his solemn profession as a member of the Augustinians in September 1966 and was ordained in 1971, in Carlisle. He was episcopal vicar for religious in the Lancaster diocese from 1990 before becoming episcopal vicar and pastor of the parish of St Augustine in the Diocese of Westminster.
Fr Campbell was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Lancaster on February 12. At the time he said: “I feel humbled and deeply touched by my appointment by Pope Benedict XVI as Coadjutor Bishop of Lancaster. It was in the Lancaster diocese that I was ordained priest and have the happiest memories of the 10 years I spent working in the diocese with the late Bishop John Brewer. I have always found the clergy, religious and people of the Diocese of Lancaster warm and friendly.
“In a sense I feel I am coming back home and I greatly look forward, with God’s grace, to working with Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue and serving the diocese as a bishop.” Bishop O’Donoghue will retire in May next year, when he reaches retirement age of 75. The bishop has become a national figure after the publication of his Fit For Mission? schools document in November. Last month he appeared before a House of Commons select committee to answer questions about his banning of moral-free sex education in the diocese.
Bishop Campbell will take responsibility for the diocese’s 179 priests when Bishop O’Donoghue retires, and financial reform will be a top priority.
It was reported last summer that the diocese has financial and manpower difficulties and as a result the future of several churches is in doubt. The future of the Grade I listed St Walburge’s in Preston was in doubt until it emerged last week that it would receive £134,000 in lottery money.
Bishop O’Donoghue will live for a year in Barrow-inFurness until he retires.
At the ceremony Bishop O’Donoghue said of his successor: “It was both a privilege and an honour to ordain Bishop Campbell, who will succeed me as Bishop of Lancaster on my retirement next summer.
“It has been a great day both for the diocese and for the Augustinian order who today saw their brother priest ordained bishop; the first Augustinian bishop in England since the Reformation.”