Sunday 3 May 2009

Handing over the Diocese

The word 'bishop' comes from the Greek meaning 'overseer' and so some of the carved heads which look down on the Cathedral give an image of the episcopate: bishops need to keep everyone in view! After nearly eight years of oversight of the Diocese of Lancaster, Bishop Patrick handed the responsibility to his successor at the beginning of Friday's Mass.

The clergy entered the Cathedral as usual: deacons behind the altar servers, then priests and bishops, with Bishop Michael just ahead of Bishop Patrick at the end of the procession. Bishop Patrick carried the crozier, an important symbol of the Bishop's role as shepherd of the Diocese.

At the foot of the sanctuary steps the Bishops paused side-by-side before proceeding. Bishop Patrick then led Bishop Michael to the Cathedra - the symbol of the Bishop's teaching authority.

At the cathedra Bishop Patrick spoke, "Bishop Michael, at the wish of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI you now assume from me the pastoral charge of the Diocese of Lancaster. With confidence and trust I hand you this crozier as a sign of the shepherd's office. May the Lord sustain you in this office which is entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit for the service of the Church of God. Dear people of God, I present to you your Bishop."

The new Bishop of Lancaster responded, "Humbly but willingly I accept this pastoral office entrusted to me by our Lord Jesus Christ through His Vicar on earth, Pope Benedict XVI. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the co-operation of my priests, I will, in the person of Christ, guide and serve the people of this Diocese of Lancaster, preach the Gospel and celebrate the Eucharist." The texts for the handover were the same as those used when Bishop John Brewer took over from Bishop Brian Foley in May 1985.

So it was that at the end of the Mass it was Bishop Campbell who held the crozier and the great responsibility of leading the Diocese of Lancaster. More pictures will follow over the coming days, so be sure to call back. Meanwhile, you can find out a little more about the Diocesan crozier on Billington's Blog, here.