Monsignor Mark O'Toole was ordained as the ninth Bishop of Plymouth during a colourful and joyful installation ceremony at Plymouth Cathedral on 28 January.
Mark O'Toole has been Rector of Allen Hall seminary in London since 2008, where more than 40 men are presently studying to become Catholic priests. He was also private secretary, for six years, to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, then Archbishop of Westminster, who spoke about the new bishop at today’s ordination Mass, saying: 'He is extremely well qualified to be your bishop.'
Cardinal Cormac recalled the words of Pope Francis about choosing a bishop:
'Above all, the bishop must watch over the flock, to keep watch, to imbue hope that they have the sun and light in their hearts to lovingly support the plans God has for his people.'
The Cardinal added, 'I commend Bishop Mark to you who I know will be the kind of bishop Pope Francis is speaking of.'
Plymouth Cathedral was packed for the Ordination Mass. There were 38 bishops in attendance as well as Cardinal Cormac and the soon-to-be cardinal, the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev. Peter Smith.
He is the first new bishop to be appointed in England and Wales by the Holy Father, Pope Francis succeeding the Rt Rev Christopher Budd, who is retiring after 28 years and who consecrated his successor in this rarely-seen ceremony.
At the end of the solemn ordination Mass, the new Bishop Mark addressed the congregation and thanked all those who had taken part including his mother and members of his family who had travelled from Ireland. He was delighted to see the leaders of other Christian communities there as well as all the civic dignitaries.
He expressed his fidelity to the Holy Father, Pope Francis and said:
'There are many in our society who search for truth, beauty and goodness, who need to know the touch of God’s mercy and the love of Jesus.'
He said that we must reach out to them in our own families and communities, adding:
'This is our mission and its task; Jesus entrusts to us all. So let us begin to walk together.'
Bishop O’Toole now has the oversight of a diocese extending from the Isles of Scilly to Bournemouth. It includes all of Devon and Cornwall and most of Dorset being the greater part of the South West of England with an estimated Catholic population in excess of 58,000.