Rt Rev Christopher Budd came to Plymouth Diocese as Bishop on 15 January 1986, and this month celebrates his 25th year as Bishop of Plymouth (15 January). The Diocese covers the counties of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset and the Isles of Scilly.
He will celebrate his Silver Jubilee with a Mass of Thanksgiving on Tuesday 18 January at 2.30pm in the Cathedral of St Mary and St Boniface, Plymouth. Afterwards there will be a celebration in the Bishop’s Garden.
Around 800 people will be present in a packed Cathedral. Among them will be over 30 Bishops, together with representatives of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Pope Benedict, whose visit to these shores in September made such an impression, has sent his Apostolic Blessing on Bishop Budd for the occasion.
Among the congregation will be 120 priests and deacons, along with leaders of other churches. The Lord Lieutenant of Devon will represent Her Majesty the Queen, and representatives of civil society will include the Lord Mayor of Plymouth and the Deputy Lord Lieutenants of Cornwall and Dorset. They will process into the Cathedral at the beginning of Mass, followed by our Papal Knights, the clergy and the bishops.
Reflecting on his ministry Bishop Christopher said, “The celebration of a bishop’s ministry should not principally focus on the person of the bishop. The proper focus is God’s gift of episcopacy to the diocese; the particular bishop is always secondary to that. There are three thoughts I would like to share on this occasion:
“The Lord is calling our diocesan Church to be faithful to Him at a time of great social and cultural change. There are many issues that need wise solutions and we need to be ready to make our contribution towards them. We do this in a spirit of service, not as if we have all the answers. The source of our ability to minister is the wisdom of Christ made available in his community. That wisdom comes from all those who will be represented in the Cathedral at the Jubilee celebration.
“Every Bishop is called to lead his Diocese on the path to unity and holiness. He is intimately involved in that journey himself. On the Jubilee day there will be many of our own bishops and other church leaders present among us, and with them we search for the unity and holiness that only Christ can offer. Unity will come when our quest for holiness reaches its final outcome.
“On 18 January we will be joined by some who represent important positions in civil society. Our relationship with the institutions of civil society is important for human flourishing. Nothing that Christ is and stands for can do harm to human beings and we need to find ways of saying this in a credible fashion.
“The Jubilee of a Bishop, then, is about an unfinished work that he will eventually hand on to another and which will involve everyone who belongs, in whatever way, to the Catholic community in this particular diocese. Bishops come and go; the clergy, religious and lay people come and go; and yet our final service is to hand on to those who come after us what we have received in trust and as gift.
“I would like to put on record my gratitude to my brother Bishops, my priests and deacons, our religious sisters and brothers and all the people of the Diocese of Plymouth for their care, love, support and prayers over many years. The task of the Church goes on and we always rejoice in that.”
At Plymouth on 18 January the people of the Diocese will ‘sing a song of thanksgiving’ to the Lord for the 25 years of episcopal ministry that Bishop Budd has offered to his Diocese. Sadly there is not enough room in the Cathedral for everyone who would have liked to join in that song. But all will pray for the Bishop and thank the Lord for his ministry.