Archbishop Nichols Welcomes Portsmouth Successor of the Apostles

Reflects on Beginnings of the Church at Episcopal Ordination Mass

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PORTSMOUTH, England, SEPT. 26, 2012 ( The archbishop of Westminster delivered the homily Monday at the Mass of episcopal ordination for the new prelate of Portsmouth, Bishop Philip Egan.

Monsignor Egan, 56, was appointed to the post in July. He is a native of Altrincham.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster presented a reflection on the early Church, noting that the Gospels show that «in his last hours, Jesus laid the foundations of what was to follow.»

«It appeals to me deeply,» he said, «to think of Jesus words from the cross, addressed to Mary and to John, as bringing the Church to birth. From the cross Jesus announces a new way of life, a new pattern of relationships, a new form of family and one that is stronger and longer-lasting than the bonds of blood. Mary was not John’s mother, and John was not her son. But they are now. They were forged into that new bond by the word of the Lord and by the power of his sacrifice, unleashing the new gift of the Holy Spirit.»

The Westminster prelate spoke of the early Church as a Church at prayer. «Here the Church is small, taking its first steps in Christian prayer, and at its heart is Mary. The words of Jesus from the Cross are acted upon. Mary is at the heart of the group of the Apostles and disciples,» he said.

Archbishop Nichols went on to note how the first reading included the list of the apostles: «The Apostles are named, for they are the ones chosen by the Lord to be the first witnesses and first foundations of the growing Church. Peter and John, James, Andrew…you know the list.

«We have our own list of Apostles, their successors here today: Peter of Southwark, John of Hallam, Seamus of Hexham and Newcastle, Mark of Shrewsbury, Declan of Clifton, Bernard of Birmingham. The list is longer than the original list – that’s the effect of inflation! And today a name is added to it: Philip of Portsmouth, newly created successor of the Apostles, given to this Church by the Lord, and coming always under the protection of our Blessed Lady.»

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