“We share the pride of the Church in England and Wales at welcoming your return to this city as Cardinal,” said Archbishop Bernard Longley at the beginning of a Mass of Welcome for Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrated on Sunday at St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham.
He thanked the new Cardinal, as he takes up new responsibilities in Rome, for his “defence of the most needy and overlooked members of our society” and for his “national and ecumenical leadership.”
He also expressed gratitude to his predecessor for being ready to “pitch your tent among the Midlands people of this city and the Archdiocese who took you to their heart.”
On his first visit to Birmingham since becoming Cardinal, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols said that he was “delighted” to be back in the city. “It’s a chance for me to rejoice in the richness of life that I received in Birmingham; to thank God for it and I hope to keep and refresh some of the friendships that I made.”
The packed assembly included bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful, faith leaders and civic representatives.
As a sign of congratulations and affection for the new Cardinal, the Archdiocese of Birmingham collected a gift of over £30,000. Cardinal Nichols has asked that this gift be given to the suffering Church in the Holy Land, through the Friends of the Holy Land, a charity which he helped to found.
Mass of Welcome – Cardinal Vincent Nichols
St Chad’s Cathedral, 30 March 2014
Your Eminence, dear Cardinal Vincent: It is a privilege and an immense pleasure to welcome you back to St Chad’s Cathedral and to the See in which you followed in the footsteps of Bishop Ullathorne from the Jubilee Year of 2000 until 2009. Here you are among friends who remember your service of this Archdiocese with gratitude and affection. We share the pride of the Church in England and Wales at welcoming your return to this city as Cardinal.
This assembly of bishops, priests, deacons, Religious and lay faithful whom you led and shepherded for nine years now feels the joy of the Gospel in greeting you again. I am delighted that Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton and Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham are with us for this celebration – and I take this opportunity to offer our congratulations to Bishop Malcolm on his appointment as Archbishop of Liverpool.
With the appointment to Liverpool and Fr Robert Byrne’s appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham in the last fortnight Cardinal Vincent’s membership of the Congregation for Bishops is rapidly bearing fruit!
Many of us were with you in Rome when you received the red hat from Pope Francis on 22 February, the Feast of St Peter’s Chair. As you take up new responsibilities in the service of the Holy See we are also grateful for the national and ecumenical leadership you are giving in the face of many contemporary challenges to the dignity of the human person. In particular we thank you for your recent compelling appeal in defence of the most needy and overlooked members of our society.
Your many colleagues among the faith leaders and civic representatives have also become your friends and I am grateful for their presence with us today. I want to welcome in particular the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Sir Paul Sabapathy, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, Councillor and Mrs Leddy, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Coventry, Councillor and Mrs Crookes, and the Mayor and Mayoress of Solihull, Councillor and Mrs Tildesley.
I also welcome Lady Stafford, Lord and Lady Camoys, Lord and Lady Whitby, Councillor Alan Rudge, Councillor and Mrs Randal Brew, Councillor and Mrs Len Gregory, Councillor Timothy Huxtable and the Right Honourable Liam Byrne MP.
In 2001, following the tragic events of 9/11, you helped to form the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group and it is fitting that members of the Group have come to welcome you today: Bishop David Urquhart and Major Sam Edgar, Bhai Sahib-Ji Dr Mohinder Singh Aluwhalia and Mr Sewa Singh Mandla, Dr Ottaranyana and Mr John Beard, Dr Mohammed Naseem and Mr Jonathan Gurling, together with the Reverend Colin Marsh representing Birmingham Churches Together. I thank all of them for their presence on this joyful and unique occasion.
Your Eminence, every priest and bishop has to be prepared to pitch his tent, to go wherever the Lord calls him and this morning on BBC West Midlands you mentioned your father’s advice to you as a young priest: never ask and never refuse. Today we are grateful that you were ready to pitch your tent among the Midlands people of this city and this Archdiocese who took you to their heart.
Thank you for returning as Cardinal.
Photos from the Mass and the reception
Watch the Mass