By Richard Shaw
A CATHOLIC cathedral was packed to capacity for the ordination of the new auxiliary Bishop of Southwark.
Mgr John Hine was ordained by Archbishop Michael Bowen at St George's Cathedral, South London, with almost 20 other bishops and archbishops joining the celebration, and Cardinal Cormac MurphyO'Connor giving the homily.
Speaking of the ceremony, Bishop Hine said: "It exceeded all my expectations."
The new bishop designed some of the ceremony himself. He said: "We tried wherever we could to bring the involvement of people into the ceremony. The various symbols of episcopal office — the ring, mitre and crozier — were brought up by people who represent the community."
Bishop Hine, who was vicar general and chancellor of the Southwark archdiocese from 1986, said he was "delighted" to be appointed.
He will have responsibility for Kent, taking over the duties of retired Bishop John Jukes. "That is where my roots are", said the bishop, who was born in Tunbridge
Wells in 1938. "My first task will be to get to know the priests and people well. I know I've got to listen to them. I'll be visiting parishes and using whatever occasion possible to listen to people's needs," he said.
He spoke with openness of the challenges ahead: "There is a danger that we continue on our merry way without referring to the huge shift in culture. What we've got to do is be able to appreciate and evaluate the culture of the day in which we live in order to see how best we can express our faith.
"There are certainly positive things about secular culture — the 'post-modern' culture is very open to ideas and new understandings, but at the same time it is pretty eclectic; people seize on all sorts of different values rather than thinking deeply about the meaning of their lives."
Education is an area in which the bishop has long been involved and one which he will seek to emphasise. -1 ran the schools' commission for Kent for a number of years, so I know quite a lot of people," he said.
"Education has always been at the forefront of Catholicism. We have always expended much energy and effort upon it."
The new bishop wants to place renewed emphasis on adult education. "We need to have a deep understanding of our own faith," he said.
The new bishop admitted he found the idea of taking on these new responsibilities "a bit awesome", and looks back with pleasure on his days as a parish priest in Bearsted, near Maidstone.
In eight years there, he moved from "a minute little congregation in the upper room of a local hall" to building a church and presbytery with a good congregation.
Bishop Hine was humble about potential achievements. "We'd better leave those to God," he said.