Friday, 2 February 2007

One Year a Bishop

Today's Feast marks the first anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Bishop John Arnold (above with the Cardinal), auxiliary in Westminster, and titular Bishop of Lindisfarne. Any such an event is solemn and splendid, but when it occurs to a friend, the occasion is even more momentous. The weeks and days before had their own surreal quality, as I watched the the Bishop-to-be first try on his mitre for size, practise keeping a zucchetto (skull cap) in place, and muse on how to wear a pectoral cross (for his first official photograph, we resorted to a paper-clip) .

Bishop John was already well known in the Diocese, and had spent eight years in the large parish of Enfield, just north of London, so there was standing room only in the Cathedral. On this beautiful Feast it was spectacular, and moving, to see the vast congregation all holding candles, with the Ordinand himself standing among the clergy of the Diocese (above). Later in the ceremony, he was called forward to the sanctuary, and having prostrated himself, had the Book of Gospels held over his head (below).

The ceremony concluded with The Cardinal accompanying his new Bishop as he walked through the Cathedral to bless the congregation, while the Te Deum was sung. Bishop John then delivered a speech which I had heard many times in the previous days as he had paced his sitting room, and which he delivered at Mass (below) without notes and faultlessly - as is his wont.
It has been good to see Bishop John grow into his episcopal role in the past year. Knowing him well, I have been aware of the difficulty in balancing all the expectations of a new bishop; it is astonishing to observe at close hand the amount a bishop is called to do (this year, for example, our diocesan bishops will each have around fifty parish Confirmations to celebrate in the weeks after Pentecost). As Moderator of the Curia, and Chancellor of the Diocese, his administrative and legal skills are stretched to the full - and that has been a strain at times. However, Bishop John wears his duties lightly, and is a popular and superbly efficient auxiliary.
This anniversary marks a great event in the life of our diocese. There is a photo gallery at the Diocesan Website, but I conclude with a photo of me and the the newly-ordained Bishop - one in which I take an especial pride!


John the organist said...

Thank you for reminding us of that wonderful celebration. I was Bishop John's crozier bearer!

Mark Langham said...

And a great job you did. Bishop John's crozier was bought for him by his parihioners from Enfield, and is a beautiful work of art.