Canon Peter Collins was yesterday (Wednesday 14th December) ordained as the fifth Bishop of East Anglia at St John’s Cathedral in Norwich, before a congregation of up to 1,100 people including Cardinal Vincent Nichols, over 20 bishops, civic and ecumenical guests.
Twenty-two of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales concelebrated the Mass and took part in the consecration of the new bishop. 150 clergy from the Diocese of East Anglia and the Archdiocese of Cardiff were also present as were representatives from every parish and catholic School in the Diocese.
The Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador) to Great Britain was represented by his First Counsellor Mgr Ervin Lengyel. The Anglican Bishops of Norwich and St Edmundsbury and Ipswich attended the Mass together with other Christian and faith leaders.
Civic guests included His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, The Lady Dannatt and General The Lord Richard Dannatt, His Honour John Devaux, representing the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk. Also present were the mayors of Norwich, Peterborough and Ely and the High Sheriff of Norfolk.
The Family of Bishop Peter and members of his former parish of St Mary of the Angels, Canton and Holy Family, Fairwater in Cardiff were also present.
Canon Peter Collins was consecrated as a bishop by Bishop Alan Hopes – now the Bishop Emeritus of East Anglia, assisted by Archbishop Mark O’Toole – current Bishop of Menevia and Archbishop of Cardiff, the diocese from which the new bishop comes – and Archbishop George Stack, Archbishop Emeritus of Cardiff.
The mandate, or Papal Bull, for the ordination was read first in Latin by Mgr Ervin Lengyel, then in English by the Chancellor of East Anglia, Canon Eugene Harkness.
The homily was preached by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, who said: “Dear Bishop-elect Peter. In a few moments, all of us gathered here will act as witnesses as you solemnly promise to undertake the duties of a bishop until the end of your life. These promises, one by one, detail the tasks that lie ahead of you – preaching the Gospel, teaching the truth, sustaining the unity of the Church, serving others in charity and compassion, reaching out to those on the margins, and practising constant prayer. All fulfilled, as you will promise, so as to afford no grounds for reproach. Peter, this is not an easy task.
“Peter, your act of prostration is our keenest moment of prayer. We beseech for you every grace and blessing, for we know and believe that all this, all that is good, is the work of the Holy Spirit. For that gift, we pray with all our hearts.
“Now, as Peter takes up his crozier, Bishop Alan hands it over. So we take this opportunity to salute you, Bishop Alan, and to thank you most sincerely for your tireless leadership during these ten years or so at the helm of this diocese. You have fulfilled your ministry with dedication and care, never slacking in pace.”
As part of the ceremony, Bishop-Elect Peter was first asked questions by Bishop Alan about his fidelity to proclaiming the gospel, teaching the Catholic faith, building up the life of the Church in the Diocese of East Anglia, his obedience to the Pope, and his care for the diocese.
Bishop Alan then invited all to pray for the Bishop Elect who lay prostrate on the floor, then Bishop Alan and all the other bishops present laid their hands, in silence, on the head of Bishop-Elect Peter, indicating the invocation of the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Alan placed the open Book of the Gospels upon the head of the Bishop-Elect for the Prayer of Consecration. When the prayer was finished, Bishop Peter’s head was anointed with the Oil of Chrism, symbolic of his sharing in the priestly, prophetic and kingly role of Christ.
He was then presented with the Book of the Gospels and three symbols of his office – a ring, a mitre and a pastoral staff.
Bishop Alan then led Bishop Peter to his special chair – known as the Cathedra. From the moment Bishop Peter sat on the chair, Bishop Alan ceased to be Bishop of East Anglia and Bishop Peter was acclaimed as the fifth Bishop of East Anglia. Bishop Peter then presided for the remainder of the Mass as the principal celebrant.
The Apostolic Nuncio’s representative, Mgr Ervin Lengyel, then addressed the congregation on the Nuncio’s behalf, saying: “My thanks to dear Bishop Alan, who served for so many years, almost to the point of thinking he had achieved immortality, with warmth, sympathy and enthusiasm. To Bishop Peter my warmest congratulations on behalf of the Holy Father. His rich personal history of uninterrupted service to the faithful under the guidance of several bishops even in tiring times and in difficult roles testifies to us that his gift to the Diocese of East Anglia is of the highest quality.”
The new Bishop Peter then addressed the assembly. In his first public words as Bishop of East Anglia, he said: “To all of you – those here present in the cathedral who have contended with the obstacles of bad weather along with disruption to transportation, and those joining through the live-stream – my brothers and sisters, from near and far; those of you who have known me for many years and those who are getting over the shock of meeting me for the first time. In allegiance to Christ, I offer a loving embrace, an assurance of my prayers and a commitment to service.
“Whilst depending upon God’s grace and mercy, it was nonetheless with a little trepidation that this Celt journeyed eastward to this gloriously fertile, though flat, land of Angles and Saxons. I rejoice that our British family has always been a wonderous international mix, no more so than in this present age. I draw encouragement from the warmth of your welcome and great strength from the multitude of messages offering an assurance of prayers for my episcopal ministry in this beloved part of England.”
The various processions then left the cathedral and refreshments were served in the cathedral garden and the Narthex Hall.
You can watch a recording of the ordination at: https://www.youtube.com/@rcdea
A full picture gallery of the ordination can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/dioceseofeastanglia
Picture credit: www.rcdea.org.uk