Archbishop Bernard Longley was Installed as the Ninth Archbishop of Birmingham, in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, during a special Mass on Tuesday 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the two Patronal Feasts of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
The climax of the two and a quarter hour ceremony was the moment when Archbishop Vincent Nichols, now Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, presented his successor with the crozier of Bishop William Bernard Ullathorne, OSB, first Bishop of Birmingham, 1850-1888. As he handed him the crozier, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "Archbishop Bernard, at the wish of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, you have assumed the pastoral charge of the Church of Birmingham. I hand on to you this Crozier, the sign of the shepherd’s office and ministry. May the Lord sustain you in your care for the people of the Archdiocese."
Everyone in the packed St Chad's Cathedral of more than 600 people stood and applauded the newly enthroned Archbishop Bernard Longley, aged 54, who looked resplendent in the vestments of his predecessor, Archbishop Edward IIsley, the second Bishop and the first Archbishop of Birmingham, 1888-1921.
More than 325 priests from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Westminster, Southwark, and the Diocese of Arundel and Brightonincluding our own Bishop Kieran, concelebrated the Mass, together with most of the hierarchy of England and Wales, Bishop Kieran was originally a priest of Birmingham Archdiocese as well as Bishop of the Diocese to which Archbishop Bernard was ordained as a priest.
Among Archbishop Bernard Longley's personal guests were his father, Fred Longley, aged 81, and his sister Kathleen Lloyd. Before he came into the Cathedral, the Archbishop-Elect, accompanied by his Secretary and Master of Ceremonies, Fr Martin Pratt, visited the nearby Grimshaw Room and spoke to more than 100 people who watched the ceremony via close-circuit television.
The Metropolitan Chapter in their red robes received the Archbishop-Elect at the West Door of the Cathedral. Then a crescendo of sound filled this great Pugin architectural jewel, situated near Birmingham city centre, as everyone joined in singing Cardinal Newman’s great hymn 'Praise to the Holiest in the height', from his poem 'The Dream of Gerontius', set to music by Elgar.
Archbishop Bernard Longley began his first ever homily in St Chad's Cathedral: "In preparing for this day I have been very conscious that I am entering into the life of a Christian family that has a long and rich history as well as its distinctive vocation to make Jesus Christ present, known and loved in this, the heart of England."
Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: "I also recall the early experience of Bishop William Ullathorne. As a teenager he experienced something that changed the whole course of his life when far from home in the Baltic port of Memel, modern-day Klaipeda. Through the faith and devotion of the local people at Mass he felt God’s power claiming his own life. As I visit the parishes and school of our Archdiocese in the years ahead I pray that I too may continue to be moved by the faith and witness of our priests and people and always open, after the example of our Lady, to the claim of God upon my life. Please continue to pray for me."
Before the Final Blessing the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and Cardinal Cormac-Murphy-O'Connor, addressed the congregation. The Cardinal, who ordained Archbishop Bernard Longley to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton on 12 December 1981 at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, and as an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster on 24 January 2003, said: "Every work that he (Archbishop Bernard) has done in the service of the Church he has done with wisdom and with zeal, and always with kindness." Cardinal Cormac added: "I think you are very fortunate as an Archdiocese to have this good man as your new Archbishop."
Archbishop Bernard Longley was accompanied by Bishop David McGough, Bishop William Kenney, CP, his two Auxiliary Bishops, Bishop Philip Pargeter, retired Auxiliary Bishop, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 until 2009. They paused briefly by the main door for pictures, before Archbishop Bernard Longley was greeted by the deacons, priests, and his brother bishops, who had formed four lines along the forecourt.
The new Archbishop of Birmingham then made his way past the Diocesan Curial Offices to the nearby Salvation Army Citadel, where he was warmly welcomed by Major Samuel Edgar, Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army, West Midlands Division. Inside, Archbishop Longley greeted an overflow congregation of more than 200 representatives of parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham who had watched the ceremony via close-circuit television. He thanked Major Edgar and the Salvation Army and invited Major Maurice Hunt, Commander of the Citadel to say a prayer for him. Major Hunt put his arm on the new Archbishop's shoulder and prayed for God to bless him at the start of his ministry in the Midlands
The visit to the Salvation Army Citadel was a poignant ecumenical moment that enhanced a moving and inspirational occasion in the life of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, now home to Archbishop Bernard Longley, the music loving lad from Manchester!
Edited press release provided by Peter Jennings