Yesterday Monsignor Canon Peter Doyle was ordained the new Bishop of Northampton. Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O’Connor, together with 25 other Bishops from England and Wales, consecrated the new Bishop and presented him to his new Diocese.
Peter Doyle was previously a priest of the diocese of Portsmouth and a large number of people from his old diocese travelled to see Northampton Cathedral him ordained. Included in the congregation were Bishop Doyle’s father and step-mother, together with close family and relations. Nearly 800 people packed the Cathedral and there were 230 priests and deacons, from Northampton and Portsmouth dioceses, and other places throughout England and Wales.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was the principal consecrator at the Mass, and he was assisted by Bishop Crispian Hollis and Bishop Declan Lang: the Cardinal and Bishop Lang, like Bishop Doyle, were at one time priests of Portsmouth diocese.
The homily was preached by the previous Bishop of Northampton, Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark, who meditated on the role and vocation of the Bishop. Also present was Bishop Leo McCartie, who had been the tenth Bishop of Northampton, and he presented to Bishop Doyle the pastoral staff of the diocese which has been used by many of Northampton’s previous Bishops.
Later in the Mass, the new Bishop was warmly welcomed to his new role by the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz. The Archbishop highlighted the fact that Bishop Doyle was the first bishop to be appointed to Great Britain by Pope Benedict XVI and recalled the Pope’s words that a shepherd should “love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves.” The archbishop said, “I have no doubt that you will have the support and love of the people of the Diocese along with the priests and the religious.”
Bishop Doyle was also welcomed by the wider family of the Diocese of Northampton: members of the clergy, religious, families and young people all came forward to offer their friendship and support to him. Church of England Bishops and leaders of the Free Churches also gathered to show the strong bonds of friendship that have been developed with the Catholic Church over a long period of time. The civic authorities were represented by the Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire and the MP for Northampton North, Sally Keeble.
Bishop Doyle thanked all for coming to the Mass and pledged to work together with all the members of the Diocese in the overall mission of the Church. He expressed his strong desire to develop good relations with other Christians and the wider community. While showing his appreciation for all that the Diocese of Portsmouth had given him for over 37 years, he also felt that from today he would belong to a new family: “I am so looking forward to getting to know you, the priests, deacons, religious and people of Northampton, and to praying with you, proclaiming the Gospel with you, celebrating the sacred mysteries with you, and bringing Christ to the world with you.”
Bishop Doyle has already committed himself to a busy schedule of engagements. On Wednesday 29th June he will celebrate his first Confirmations as Bishop at the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Great Billing, Northampton, at 7.30 pm. He will celebrate Confirmations again at Wellingborough and at Bletchley near Milton Keynes on Thursday and Friday respectively. In the next few weeks he will meet all the clergy of the diocese in a series of deanery meetings, and with the religious of the diocese on Sunday 17th July at 5,00 pm at Turvey Abbey.