The Most Reverend Peter Smith
Archbishop Peter Smith was born in Battersea on 21st October 1943. He was educated at Clapham College and Exeter University where he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in law in 1966. Archbishop Peter entered St John's Seminary, Wonersh and was ordained priest for the Diocese of Southwark on 5th July 1972.
Archbishop Peter’s first appointment was as assistant priest at St Francis, Stockwell where he served from 1972 to 1974.
In 1977, Archbishop Peter gained a Doctorate in Canon Law (JCD) from the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome and became Professor of Canon Law at St John's Seminary, a post that he held until 1984. He was appointed Parish Administrator at St Andrew's, Thornton Heath in 1984 before becoming Rector of St John's Seminary where he remained until 1995.
On 21st March 1995, Archbishop Peter was appointed second Bishop of East Anglia. He was ordained in St John’s Cathedral, Norwich on 27th May 1995 by Cardinal Basil Hume. Six years later, he was named Archbishop of Cardiff on 26th October 2001.
On 30th April 2010, the Holy Father announced that Archbishop Peter would succeed Archbishop Kevin McDonald as the tenth Archbishop of Southwark. He was installed as Archbishop of Southwark on 10th June 2010.
From October 2014 to May 2015, Archbishop Peter served as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton alongside his work as Archbishop of Southwark. Other responsibilities that Archbishop Peter held during his ministry include Chairman of the Catholic Truth Society from 1993 to 2007; Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales from 1998 to 2019; Chairman of the Central Religious Advisory Committee of the BBC and Independent Television Commission from 2001 to 2004. In 2002, he was appointed a Sub-Prelate and Chaplain of the Venerable Order of Saint John; he was awarded Honorary Fellowships from St Edmund's College, Cambridge in 1997, the University of Wales in 2004 and Cardiff University in 2006.
After nine years as Archbishop of Southwark, having reached the age of 75, Archbishop Peter’s resignation from office was accepted by Pope Francis on Monday 10th June 2019; he was appointed Apostolic Administrator for Southwark the same day to oversee the transition period until the installation of his successor, Archbishop John Wilson, on the 25th July 2019.
Following his death, Archbishop John Wilson said:
“In a ministry that spanned almost fifty years, Archbishop Peter made an outstanding contribution to the Catholic Church across three dioceses, and nationally through his service on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
“Most importantly, he was a disciple who witnessed to Christ with straightforward, splendid faith and radiant joy.”
Archbishop Emeritus Kevin McDonald
Archbishop McDonald was born in Stoke-on-Trent on 18th August 1947. He was educated at St Joseph’s College, Stoke-on-Trent and was awarded a Latin degree from the University of Birmingham.
In 1968, he entered English College, Rome and was ordained priest for the Diocese of Birmingham in the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Chad on 20th July 1974.
From 1976 to 1985, Archbishop Kevin worked as a lecturer in moral theology at Oscott Seminary. In 1985, he became Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome, a position that he held until 1993. In 1989, Archbishop Kevin earned a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
In 1993, Archbishop Kevin returned to England and became the parish priest of English Martyrs, Sparkhill until 1998. From 1998 until 2001 he was Rector of Oscott Seminary. On 2nd May 2001, Archbishop Kevin was consecrated as the 11th Bishop of Northampton by Bishop Leo McCartie.
On 8 December 2003, Archbishop Kevin was installed as the Archbishop of Southwark. He served until 4th December 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation on health grounds.
Archbishop Kevin continues to live in London and to have an active ministry. He has responsibility for Catholic-Jewish relations and Interreligious Relations within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. He is a Consultor to the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and is also involved ecumenically, particularly with the Ancient Oriental Churches. Archbishop Kevin was Grand Prior of the England and Wales Lieutenancy of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre until succeeded by Archbishop John Wilson in 2021. He advises the CHARIS National Service of Communion which is the principal co-ordinating organisation of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in England.
The Most Reverend George Michael Bowen
Born in Gibraltar on 23 April 1930, Archbishop Michael grew up in Wimbledon. He was educated at Avisford House Preparatory School, near Arundel, and then by the Benedictines at Downside School. In 1940, when Archbishop Michael was ten, his father, a major in the Army, was killed in action in Norway. His mother remarried in 1945, to Sir Paul Makins.
In 1949, Archbishop Michael was called up for National Service and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Irish Guards, his father’s regiment. Afterwards, he spent a year at Trinity College, Cambridge, and then worked briefly in the wine trade.
Archbishop Michael began his studies for the priesthood at the Venerable English College in Rome in 1952. During his time there, he produced Gilbert and Sullivan operas and also played cricket. He gained theology and philosophy degrees from the Gregorian University and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Southwark in Rome on July 6 1958.
Archbishop Michael’s first post was as a curate at St Gregory’s, Earlsfield. In 1960 he moved to The English Martyrs, Walworth, where, in the evenings, he taught at St Augustine’s House, a hostel for working men who were thinking about the priesthood. In 1963, with the Second Vatican Council underway, he returned to Rome to teach theology at the Beda College. He came back to England in 1966 to become Chancellor of the newly established Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. In 1970, he was consecrated Coadjutor Bishop for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and titular Bishop of Lamsorti. The following year, on 27 June, after the death of Bishop David Cashman, he was appointed Diocesan Bishop. He was ordained the second Bishop of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton on 14 March 1971.
As a result of the Second Vatican Council, the 1970s were marked by changes and new ideas in the Church. For most of the decade, Archbishop Michael was a member of the Bishops’ Education Committee and also chaired the Catechetical Commission. He was involved in the decision to close Corpus Christi College, a national centre of religious education in Kensington, because of concerns over its interpretation of Catholic doctrine. Along with Cardinal John Heenan, Archbishop Michael represented the Bishops of England and Wales at the 1971 Synod of Bishops. From 1972 to 1975, he was co-chairman of the Catholic/Methodist International Commission.
Following the death of Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy, Archbishop Michael was appointed Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Diocese of Southwark on 23 April 1977. One of his first major actions was to divide the Diocese into three pastoral areas, each with its own bishop. He appointed a Director of Diocesan Pastoral Renewal and, to provide the laity with a greater voice, established a pastoral council in each of the 20 Southwark deaneries. His plan, some years later, to split the Diocese in two, with Kent having its own cathedral, was rejected by the Holy See.
The welfare of priests and religious was something Archbishop Michael cared deeply about. To enhance their spiritual and theological development, he organised a number of days of prayer and study. He expanded the permanent diaconate and established a formation programme, built around weekend studies, at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh.
Due to falling school rolls, Archbishop Michael implemented a major re-organisation of secondary schools in south London. He set up chaplaincies for universities in south London and also several chaplaincies for ethnic communities.
Pressures on marriage and family life were a concern to him. In a newspaper interview in 2001, he said, “We need Catholics who are willing to be trained as marriage counsellors. We need parents to get involved in parenting courses, and we also need to support single parents and those who are divorced and separated.”
The changes to the liturgy since the Second Vatican Council had not been welcomed by all Catholics. In an attempt to meet their pastoral needs, he gave permission for the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated in some churches in the Archdiocese.
In 1982, Pope John Paul visited England. It was Archbishop Michael who suggested that the theme of the pope’s six-day visit to Britain be the seven sacraments.
A highlight of the visit for Archbishop Michael was the Pope’s visit to St George’s Cathedral to celebrate a Mass for the sick on 28 May 1982.
In 1999, at the invitation of the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Archbishop Michael attended the opening of the Tibetan Peace Garden in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum opposite the Cathedral. In turn, Archbishop Michael invited the Dalai Lama, the Tibet Foundation and leaders of other faiths to join him in a prayer service.
In 2000, he welcomed Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the special envoy of
Pope John Paul II, to St George’s Cathedral to lead vespers as part of the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the restoration of the hierarchy of England and Wales.
Archbishop Michael held a number of key posts at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW). He was Chairman of the Department of Christian Life and Worship from 1983 to 1999 and of the Committee for Family Life from 1983 to 1986. In 1996, he was elected Vice-President of the CBCEW and following the death of Cardinal Basil Hume in July 1999, he became President, a post he held until the election of Archbishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor in 2000.
For 26 years, Archbishop Michael served both as a governor of Digby Stuart College, Roehampton, and Chair of Southwark Province’s Bishops’ Committee for St John’s Seminary, Wonersh. He served for 15 years on the Bishops’ Committee for the Venerable and Beda Colleges in Rome and 11 years as a Director of Catholic National Mutual Ltd.
Archbishop Michael was Grand Prior of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He received an honorary fellowship from the University of Roehampton and was made a Freeman of the City of London.
Archbishop Michael tendered his resignation in November 2003, a year before the usual age of 75, so that the Diocese would not be without a bishop for a lengthy period. Following the announcement of his resignation, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said: “He has been a true teacher and guide to his flock, a man who has led with certainty and humility, and served well the people and priests of his Archdiocese.”
Archbishop Michael died in the early hours of Thursday 17 October 2019, at St Peter’s Home, Vauxhall. He will be remembered both as a gentleman and a gentle man.
Funeral Homily of Archbishop Michael Bowen
preached by Bishop Richard Moth
Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy
Archbishop Cowderoy was born in Sidcup on the 5th May 1905. He was educated at Dulwich College, St Joseph’s College, Mark Cross and St John’s Seminary, Wonersh and was ordained a priest on 30th May 1931.
Following ordination, Archbishop Cowderoy spent a year studying in Paris before returning to St Joseph’s College, Mark Cross to teach from 1932 to 1937.
On 1st September 1937, Archbishop Cowderoy was appointed Secretary to Bishop Amigo and moved to Bishop’s House, Southwark. He held this position until 1946 when he became Diocesan Chancellor. While Diocesan Chancellor, he was appointed a Pro Synodal Judge on 27th January 1947 and Papal Chamberlain on 13th December 1948.
Archbishop Cowderoy served as the parish priest in Lee for a short time in 1949 before being elected as Bishop of Southwark on 12th December 1949 and consecrated on the 21st December 1949.
St George’s Cathedral had been destroyed in 1941 during a bombing raid. The first ten years of Archbishop Cowderoy’s time as Bishop coincided with a period of fundraising for the restoration of the Cathedral culminating in the re-opening of the Cathedral in 1958.
In the 1960’s, Archbishop Cowderoy attended the Second Vatican Council and oversaw the implementation of the changes brought about by that Council. On 28th May 1965, the new Diocese of Arundel and Brighton was created from part of the Diocese of Southwark. On the same date, the Diocese of Southwark was elevated to a Metropolitan See and Archbishop Cowderoy became the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Southwark receiving the pallium in a ceremony at Aylesford.
In December 1972, Archbishop Cowderoy ordained Bishop Charles Henderson as Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark, the first Auxiliary since Bishop Brown died in 1951.
Archbishop Cowderoy died after a confirmation service at West Malling on 10th October 1976.
Archbishop Peter Amigo
Archbishop Amigo was born on 26th May 1864 in Gibraltar. He was educated at St Edmund's College, Ware, Hertfordshire. He studied for the priesthood at St Thomas's Theological College, Hammersmith and was ordained a priest at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, on 25th February 1888.
Following ordination, Archbishop Amigo returned to St Edmund’s to teach classics, church history and scripture. In 1892, he became assistant priest at Holy Trinity church, Hammersmith where he remained until 1896. He then became assistant priest at St Michael’s Church, Stepney where he became parish priest in 1901.
In 1901, Archbishop Amigo transferred to Southwark Diocese where he became parish priest of English Martyrs, Walworth. In 1902, he was appointed joint Vicar General of the Diocese.
On 25th March 1904, Archbishop Amigo was consecrated as Bishop of Southwark by Cardinal Francis Bourne. In 1938, in recognition of Archbishop Amigo's golden jubilee, Pope Pius XI conferred on him the personal title of Archbishop.
Archbishop Amigo died on 1st October 1949 at St George's Cathedral after a short illness.
A more detailed biography can be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-57604