on the



Archbishop (emeritus) Michael Bowen

Pastoral Letter

From Archbishop Bowen
To be read at all Masses on Sunday 9 November 2003


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am delighted that the Holy Father has appointed the present Bishop of Northampton, Kevin McDonald, to succeed me as Archbishop of Southwark. He is an excellent choice and my anxieties for the future of the Diocese are now happily resolved.

I have had an exceptionally long innings as Archbishop and it seemed right to me that, after nearly 27 years, I should hand on my responsibilities to a younger man. One reason for asking the Holy Father to accept my retirement a year or so before the usual age of 75 was to ensure that the Diocese would not be left without a Diocesan Bishop for a lengthy period. I am glad that this awkward situation has been avoided.

I want to thank the many lay people, bishops, priests, deacons and religious who have worked with me and supported me over the years, making up for my shortcomings in all sorts of ways. I value especially their friendship and loyal service. My visits to parishes and schools have always been joyful occasions and a source of great encouragement for me. I plan to continue living in the diocese and will be available to help my successor, so we may continue to see each other from time to time.

Bishop McDonald is 17 years younger than myself and will bring a fresh start, a new vision and energy to our mission as a local Church. He has the qualities required for the post, together with a wide experience having been a Curate, Parish Priest, Seminary Professor and Rector, as well as serving on the staff of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, in Rome, before becoming a Bishop. He is currently Chairman of the Bishops' Conference Committee for Other Faiths and of the Committee for Catholic/Jewish Relations.

He will take possession of the Archdiocese of Southwark on Monday, 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Principal Patron of our Diocese.

I am sure Bishop McDonald will prove a good shepherd and leader for you all. I give thanks to God for his appointment and I ask you to keep him and myself in your prayers.

+ Michael

Archbishop of Southwark

Given on the Feast of All Saints