Pope Francis has appointed as the new Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Fr Robert Byrne CO, until now National Ecumenical Officer for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Fr Robert Byrne’s episcopal ordination will take place at 11am on Tuesday 13 May 2014 at the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, St Chad’s Cathedral. He will succeed Bishop Philip Pargeter, who has been Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham since 1990.
Fr Robert Byrne said:
“I am deeply honoured and humbled that the Holy Father, Pope Francis has appointed me as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. His example will continue to inspire and shape my ministry in Birmingham, especially to serve the poor, the marginalised and those who may feel alienated from God and society. In the spirit of St Philip Neri – the founder of the Oratory and a saint with a great sense of humour – I am committed to helping share the joy of the Gospel message with others.
“I began my priestly ministry in Birmingham twenty nine years ago and I look forward to renewing my friendships and to making my home once again in this great city. I have a great love for the Malvern Hills and the music of Elgar, so was particularly pleased when I learned that my ministry would include the pastoral care of the Worcestershire deaneries.
“I have been richly blessed in these years by the people that I have met and the work that I’ve been asked to do – as a parish priest, in prison chaplaincy, and latterly as the Bishops’ Conference’s National Ecumenical Officer. I look forward to building upon this experience and to working closely with other Christians and people of all faiths and none.
“I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my Oratorian community for their priestly example, friendship and support. I shall miss them greatly and also the parishioners of St Aloysius parish in Oxford.
“Blessed John Henry Newman, the founder of the English Oratory has inspired me as a priest. I hope in some way to be able to follow his example, particularly in the care and love that he showed for his priests and people.
“I know I can count on the prayer, co-operation and support of the people, the religious and the priests of the diocese. I look forward to working with and learning from Archbishop Bernard and Bishops William and David.
“I ask for the prayers of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the Diocese, together with St Chad and Blessed John Henry Newman as I begin my new ministry as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley said:
“I am immensely grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Fr Robert Byrne Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. From his time at the Birmingham Oratory and as Provost of the Oxford Oratory, Fr Robert has come to know our Archdiocese well.
“Having worked alongside him in recent years as the Bishops’ Conference’s Ecumenical Officer, I know that he will bring considerable pastoral, theological and administrative skills to his new responsibilities as a bishop. Above all I am grateful that he brings the spirituality of St Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratory, to enrich his ministry among us.
“I know that everybody in the Archdiocese, and especially in his pastoral area of Birmingham and Worcestershire, will join me in asking for the prayers of Fr Robert’s fellow Oratorian, Blessed John Henry Newman, as he now prepares for his episcopal ordination in May.
“I also wish to record my abiding gratitude to Bishop Philip Pargeter for continuing to serve the Archdiocese with great dedication in recent years and for the support and friendship he has so generously given me.”
Born in Manchester on 22 September 1956, the youngest son of Sidney and Monica Byrne.
St Bede’s College, Manchester
King’s College, London (BD and BD AKC)
Pontifical College of St Thomas Aquinas, Rome
Entered Birmingham Oratory
Chaplain, St Philip’s College, Edgbaston
Founder, Oxford Oratory
Provost, Oxford Oratory
Parish Priest, St Aloysius Parish, Oxford
Secretary of the Permanent Deputation of the International Federation of the Congregations of the Oratory
Trustee and Governor of Oratory School
Fr Robert Byrne’s pastoral areas will include the following six deaneries:
Birmingham (Cathedral, North, South and East)
Affirm and strengthen Catholic life in the Pastoral Area
Represent the Archbishop locally
Facilitate initiatives to strengthen and encourage the life of deaneries and parishes
Carry out formal visitations to parishes
Celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation
Fr Robert Byrne will become the titular bishop of Cuncacestre
More about the Archdiocese of Birmingham
Bishop Philip Pargeter
Bishop-elect Robert Byrne’s biography on the Bishops’ Conference website