Pope Francis has appointed as the new Bishop of Plymouth, Monsignor Mark O’Toole, until now Rector of Allen Hall Seminary in London.
Mgr O’Toole’s episcopal ordination will take place at 2pm on Tuesday 28 January 2014 at the Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface in Plymouth. He will succeed Bishop Christopher Budd, who has been bishop of Plymouth since 1986.
Mgr O’Toole said:
“I am deeply humbled that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed me the new Bishop of Plymouth. Recognising that I am a sinner who experiences the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus, I embrace with my whole self this deeper call to service in His Church. I know that the example and witness of Pope Francis will continue to inspire and shape my ministry as Shepherd to all in the Diocese, especially to serve the poor, the weak, and those who feel alienated from God, as I work alongside fellow-Christians.
“This part of the country is known for its outstanding natural beauty, and this is mirrored in the gracious welcome shown to the newcomer by its people. I look forward very much to putting down firm roots in the Diocese and making my home in Plymouth. I know I can count on the prayer, co-operation and support of the people, the religious and especially the priests of the Diocese who are renowned for their quiet heroism, fidelity and dedication. You will all show me what it means to be your Bishop. I am grateful, too, that Bishop Christopher will be nearby so that I can draw on his wisdom and experience.
“My own priestly heart has been formed in the Diocese of Westminster and I have been richly blessed by the faith and witness of many – bishops, priests, seminarians, religious, and lay men and women. I look especially to the outstanding leadership of my three Archbishops - Cardinal Basil Hume OSB, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Archbishop Vincent Nichols. Each of them has taught me so much. I am deeply grateful for the friendship and love of so many in the Diocese and I ask their continued prayer. I will miss especially everyone at Allen Hall. I have seen how essential the vocation of the priest is for our Church and our society. I hope I can continue to make its promotion a priority in this new mission.
“I entrust the whole Diocese of Plymouth, and myself, into the loving care of Mary, our Mother, as we set out on this journey together, seeking also the intercession of St Boniface and our diocesan saints, especially St Cuthbert Mayne.”
Bishop Budd said:
“I am delighted to welcome Mgr Mark O’Toole as my successor as Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and I am grateful to Pope Francis for sending him to us. He is coming to a lovely community of Priests, deacons and Religious and people of God who make up the Diocese. I know he will receive a warm and loving welcome. May the Lord bless his Ministry among us.”
The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said:
“‘It is in giving that we receive.’ These words come to mind as we, in the Diocese of Westminster, welcome the news that Mgr Mark O’Toole is to be the next Bishop of Plymouth in succession to Bishop Christopher Budd.
“Mgr Mark has fulfilled many roles in our Diocese, best known as Rector of our Seminary, Allen Hall, and as Secretary to Cardinal Cormac for six years. He is a dedicated, gifted and experienced priest who will become an excellent Bishop of Plymouth and a valued member of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
“We shall miss him but always hold him in our prayers especially as he prepares to take up this new mission, given by the Lord. He will go to Plymouth fully supported by the love and esteem of everyone in this Diocese.”
Plymouth Diocese consists of the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset (west of the original county border) and the Isles of Scilly. The patron of the Diocese is St Boniface. Since its establishment in 1850 there have been eight Bishops in the Diocese. Msgr O’Toole will become the ninth Bishop of Plymouth.
For further information about the Diocese go to http://www.plymouth-diocese.org.uk/
MGR MARK O’TOOLE – Biography
22 June 1963 Born in London, the youngest son of Marcus and Maura O’Toole who originally came from the Irish-speaking community of Connemara,
Galway, Ireland. Attended St Ignatius Primary School, Stamford Hill and St Thomas More Secondary school in Wood Green. Left school with four ‘A’ levels in 1981.
1984 Graduated with a B.Sc. in Geography from the University of Leicester
1984-89 Studied for the Priesthood at Allen Hall Seminary, graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity in Theology.
1989-90 Pastoral work as a deacon in St Joan of Arc Parish, Highbury
9 June1990 Ordained priest of the Diocese of Westminster by Cardinal Basil Hume
1990-92 M. Phil in Theology at the University of Oxford. Wrote a thesis on the relationship between Divine and Human freedom, supervised by the Lady Margaret Professor, Dr Rowan Williams.
1992-97 Assistant priest in St Mary Magdalene parish, Willesden Green; part-time lecturer in Catechesis.
1997-2002 Member of Staff at Allen Hall Seminary – Lecturer in Theology and Formation Adviser to seminarians. Sacred License in Theology from Pontifical University, Leuven granted in 2000.
1999-2002 Dean of Studies, Allen Hall Seminary
2002-2008 Private Secretary to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster
Sept. 2008 Appointed Rector, Allen Hall Seminary