Bishop Mark O’Toole installed as new Archbishop of Cardiff

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A ceremony to install Bishop Mark O’Toole as the new Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff took place on Monday June 20 at St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff.

Appointed by Pope Francis, Bishop Mark O’Toole had been Bishop of Plymouth since 2013. Succeeding Bishop George Stack, who has served in Cardiff since 2011, today’s installation coincides with the feast of the Welsh martyrs Saints Julius and Aaron .

As well as assuming oversight of Catholic communities in the Archdiocese of Cardiff, Bishop O’Toole also becomes the new Bishop of Menevia, a diocese that includes Swansea and surrounding areas. A second ceremony is taking place on Thursday June 23 at St Joseph’s Cathedral Church, Swansea to celebrate this. The two dioceses combined incorporate much of South and Mid Wales, alongside Herefordshire.

Having spent the last eight years as Bishop in the Diocese of Plymouth, ministering in the counties of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, Bishop O’Toole looks forward to immersing himself in the communities of both dioceses.

In his homily during today’s service, Bishop O’Toole said he “must listen and learn to begin with.”

The Archbishop continued: “I was delighted to learn that since my arrival in Wales, Wales aspires to be the first nation of sanctuary. It is also an expression of the love of God, manifested in the love that the people of Wales have for the men, women and children around the world who have been forced to flee their homes.

“I am very grateful for the presence of some of our ecumenical and civic leaders here today. With our interfaith partners and with all people of good will, we want to work together, however small or modest, to build places of sanctuary in our churches and in our communities.

Archbishop O’Toole, 59, was born in London and spent much of his ministry there. He said, “I am grateful and touched by the trust the Holy Father has placed in me. I face the task that awaits me with both enthusiasm and a certain apprehension, aware of my own weaknesses… [a] deep sense that the Lord goes before us all in this new mission, that I fully embrace this new call in my life.”

He completed an M.Phil in Theology at Oxford University from 1990 to 1992, where his supervisor was the Lady Margaret Professor of Theology and the Swansea-born former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Bishop O’Toole’s predecessor, Bishop George Stack, said: “I warmly welcome the appointment of Bishop Mark O’Toole as Archbishop of Cardiff and Bishop of Menevia ‘in persona Episcopi’. This arrangement was made by the Holy Seat maintaining the identity, legal reality, history and pastoral life of each diocese.

“Bishop Mark will bring great gifts to this new ministry. The people of each diocese will be blessed by his experience as Bishop of Plymouth. His pastoral, theological and administrative skills will be of enormous benefit to us all. His national responsibilities as Chairman of the Department of Evangelism and Discipleship of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have been recognized by the Holy See as a member of the International Council for Catechesis. His Celtic heritage will resonate with the Catholic faithful in Wales and the wider community of his new home.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “I offer Archbishop Mark my fullest support and fervent prayers as he prepares to take on his new role. I am sure the Catholic community in Wales will warmly welcome him, as will the leaders of other churches there and those of civil society. St David and All Saints of Wales, pray for him.

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