It was announced on 10th June 2019, the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from office of Archbishop Peter Smith and duly appointed Bishop John Wilson as his successor and Eleventh Archbishop of Southwark.
Upon reaching their 75th year, bishops are required to submit their resignation from office to the Holy Father. Archbishop Peter did this in 2018, and the process leading to a new appointment began soon after.
Archbishop-Elect John Wilson had until his appointment been an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster.
He was born in Sheffield on 4th July 1968. He studied at the University of Leeds before starting his formation for the priesthood in 1989 at the Venerable English College in Rome.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Leeds on 29th July 1995, and served as Assistant Priest at
St Joseph’s, Pontefract 1995-1998 and at St Joseph’s, Bradford 1998-1999. From 1999-2005, he was a lecturer in moral theology at St Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw and served as Vice Rector. He was Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation in Leeds between 2005 and 2012. From June 2012 to November 2014 he was Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Leeds. Then he was Parish Priest of St Martin de Porres, Wakefield. On 24th November 2015 he was appointed an Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster, and was ordained Bishop on 25th January 2016.
Speaking of his appointment Archbishop-Elect John said: ‘To say I am deeply humbled by my appointment, while absolutely true, hardly seems adequate. It is an immense privilege and I will do my very best to serve joyfully after the example of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Aware of my unworthiness and limitations, and with more than a little trepidation, I am grateful to Pope Francis for entrusting me with this new mission in the service of the Lord and His people in the Archdiocese of Southwark. There is so much that is new to me and I know I have much to learn. I rely totally on the Holy Spirit to guide my new ministry of witnessing to the love of God for each person so that we might be evermore a Church of joyful missionary disciples, alive in Christ, our risen Saviour….
I have received a warm welcome from Archbishop Peter Smith for which I thank him sincerely. I know how much he and his ministry will be missed. I am so pleased that he will be retiring within the Archdiocese. His continued presence and counsel is a great reassurance.
We will continue to build on the important foundations he has put in place. It is with faith-filled anticipation that I look forward to sharing the Church’s mission with Bishop Patrick Lynch and Bishop Paul Hendricks, and with the priests, deacons, religious and lay people of the Archdiocese. Together we step out into the future with confidence, trusting that the Lord is indeed with us’.
Archbishop Peter warmly welcomed the appointment, stating: ‘It was with great delight that I received the splendid news that Pope Francis has appointed Bishop John Wilson as the next Archbishop of Southwark. It was nine years ago today that I was installed as the tenth Archbishop of this Diocese, and I am very pleased now to be able to pass on my responsibilities to such a capable successor. The Archdiocese of Southwark has a vibrant and multi-cultural Catholic population to which Bishop John will bring new energy and enthusiasm. I wish him every blessing for his episcopal ministry in Southwark and assure him of my prayers and good wishes’.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, also expressed his support of the new appointment: ‘On behalf of the people, priests and religious of Westminster I assure Archbishop-elect Wilson of our whole-hearted support and prayers as he moves to take up his role as Archbishop of Southwark. We thank him most warmly fort his service in Westminster both as an area bishop and a dedicated part of episcopal oversight of the Archdiocese, especially in education’.
Archbishop-Elect John’s Installation as Archbishop of Southwark will take place on Thursday 25th July 2019 at 12 noon at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark. Archbishop Peter has been appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese until the installation.