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Pope Francis Appoints Two New Auxiliary Bishops

Pope Francis has appointed as two new Auxiliary Bishops of the Diocese of Westminster, Canon Paul McAleenan and Mgr John Wilson.

The joint episcopal ordinations of Canon Paul McAleenan, a priest of the Diocese of Westminster, and Mgr John Wilson, a priest of the Diocese of Leeds, will take place in Westminster Cathedral on 25 January  2016, the feast of the Conversion of St Paul. They will join Bishop John Sherrington and Bishop Nicholas Hudson as Bishops of the Diocese of Westminster. 

‘Today I thank God for this gift of two new bishops for service in our diocese. As Pope Francis has made clear, the name of a new bishop is written by Jesus himself. So today I say “Thanks be to God!”’ said Cardinal Vincent.

‘I am also most thankful to Pope Francis for this important strengthening of our diocesan family in our striving to be faithful to the Lord and to the mission he has given to us all. The role of the bishop is one of demanding service and here we are blessed by these additions to the oversight and encouragement which we can offer, in the name of the Good Shepherd, to our priests and people.

‘I am delighted to welcome Bishop-elect Paul McAleenan. He has served this diocese for many years and now he will continue to do so in this new ministry. He steps forward for this ordination from the ranks of much-loved parish priests, whose faithful service and generosity are deeply appreciated. His experience and voice will be a great addition to the episcopal ministry we can offer together.

‘I welcome most warmly to this diocese Bishop-elect John Wilson. In doing so I extend my thanks to the Diocese of Leeds and to Bishop Marcus Stock. Mgr Wilson has been nurtured and formed in and for that diocese. So I thank everyone there for this act of generosity. God always rewards this generous giving to the wider Church. We will benefit from his experience and his enthusiasm and we will take good care of him!

‘On behalf of my fellow bishops here, Bishop John Sherrington and Bishop Nicholas Hudson, I welcome our new brother bishops. I assure them of a warm welcome from our priests and people. We all look forward to their episcopal ordinations which will take place in Westminster Cathedral on Monday 25 January 2016, the feast of the Conversion of St Paul.’

Canon Paul McAleenan said: ‘It is with a sense of inadequacy and unworthiness that I accept this office of Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster. To be a bishop was never a part of my plans and certainly not my expectation. I know it is only with the help of God I can carry out this ministry in a way that is pleasing to him.  God in his wisdom, as Scriptures record, chooses unlikely figures to lead his people. It is in this God that I place my trust.

‘I pray also that the faith and trust shown in me by Pope Francis will be well placed. For my part I promise to work with Cardinal Vincent, my fellow auxiliary bishops and the presbyterate for the good of the people of God in Westminster and the benefit of the Church.

‘The Church exists to evangelise, to give hope, to guide, to lead, to bring people to experience the presence and the love of Christ. My hope is that, under the leadership of Pope Francis, all means of evangelisation, including new initiatives in the Diocese of Westminster, will be grasped to continue this mission. I can only pray that as a bishop, I will be given the grace and wisdom to see what is expected of me and the strength to carry out my new responsibilities.’

Mgr John Wilson said: ‘I am rarely lost for words, but when His Excellency Archbishop Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio, informed me that I had been nominated by Pope Francis as an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster I was reduced to silence. Aware of my unworthiness it was only after prayer, and with complete trust in God’s provident goodness, that I accepted. It is such an enormous privilege to be asked to serve the Lord and his Church in this way. I can only do so seeking to follow the example of the Lord Jesus who came humbly in service of all.

‘I know something of the wonderful vibrancy of Catholic faith and life present in the Diocese of Westminster. Under the leadership of Cardinal Nichols, and working closely with the other bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful, I look forward to witnessing to Christ and to sharing the joy of the Gospel together as a community of missionary disciples.

‘There is inevitably some sadness for me in leaving the Diocese of Leeds and the parish of St Martin de Porres in Wakefield. Over the past 20 years I have received countless blessings through the bishops, clergy, religious and laity of the diocese. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart and will always remember them with gratitude before the Lord.

‘I realise that I have much to learn as this new chapter of my ministry begins. I ask for prayer, especially as the Year of Mercy approaches, that I might serve the Lord’s desire that reconciliation take root in our hearts and bear the fruit of peace for our world.’

Rt Rev Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds, said: ‘With the news today of the Holy Father’s appointment of the Rev Mgr John Wilson as one of the two new Auxiliary Bishops for the Diocese of Westminster, comes the assurance of prayers for Mgr Wilson from the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Leeds. We give thanks to Almighty God for the 20 years that he has ministered faithfully as a priest in this diocese. We are confident that Mgr Wilson will use the gifts and talents given to him by the Lord in the fruitful service of the people entrusted to his care within his new diocese. ‘