The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Marcus Stock returned to St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham on Tuesday (13 January) for a Mass of Thanksgiving “not for (his) consecration as a bishop”, but for “the love, support and nurture of (his) faith” received from the parishioners and religious during his 27 years as a priest in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. He also offered the Mass in thanksgiving for the friendship of his brother priests and the example of former and current Archbishops and Bishops of the diocese.
The Mass was celebrated on the Feast of St Hilary – the patron saint invoked against snake bites. The Bishop jokingly said that this saint is “a useful heavenly ally for many a priest or bishop, I suspect!” St Hilary was a fourth century Bishop who spent most of his priestly life fighting the deep divisions caused by the Arian heresy in the Church of his day. Bishop Stock said “The life of Saint Hilary offers an important lesson to all of us: we must live what we believe; we must be a witness to the Truth and be willing and able to defend it in a way that is both gentle, compassionate and humble, but also in a way that is strong, faithful and bold.”
He assured the congregation of his prayers and begged them “to continue to support (him) in (his) ministry as a bishop with (their) friendship and, most importantly, with (their) prayers.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley welcomed Bishop Stock back to his old diocesan family. In his words of welcome, the Archbishop said “Bishop Marcus has always deeply valued the bonds of friendship which he has forged and enjoyed among his brother priests here in Birmingham. Now, as Bishop of Leeds, I know that the care of his own clergy is his highest priority and his priests and deacons will be well-served by a conscientious and devoted pastor.”
At the request of the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bishop Marcus used the crozier that he received during the ordination rite in Leeds at the St Chad’s Thanksgiving Mass because it was a gift from the Archdiocese of Birmingham. About the crozier, the Archbishop said “As he leans upon it during his pilgrim years ahead, and as he guides his new flock, may it always remind him of the affectionate support and prayers of the clergy, the Religious and the lay-faithful of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.“
Parishioners from St Birinus, Dorchester-on-Thames, St Peter’s, Bloxwich and St Teresa’s, Coleshill, together with friends from the Education Service and the Diocesan Curia, attended the Thanksgiving Mass. Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop Robert Byrne, Cong. Orat. concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Marcus Stock.
To read the homily in full please click here: Homily of Bp Marcus Stock