Monsignor Mark O'Toole, whom Pope Francis appointed Bishop of Plymouth on Saturday, has said he is humbled by the appointment and that the Roman Pontiff's example will help form his ministry there.
“Recognising that I am a sinner who experiences the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus, I embrace with my whole self this deeper call to service in His Church,” the bishop elect said Nov. 9.
“I know that the example and witness of Pope Francis will continue to inspire and shape my ministry as Shepherd to all in the Diocese, especially to serve the poor, the weak, and those who feel alienated from God, as I work alongside fellow Christians.”
He added that “I look forward very much to putting down firm roots in the Diocese and making my home in Plymouth.”
Monsignor O'Toole was born in London of Irish descent in 1963. He began seminary for the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1984 at Allen Hall, and was ordained a priest in 1990. He has served as a parish priest, and did further studies in theology at Oxford University, and in theology at the Pontifical University of Leuven.
In 1997 he became a professor and formator at Allen Hall Seminary, where he served until 2002. At that time, he became personal secretary to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who was Archbishop of Westminster. In 2008 Monsignor O'Toole was appointed rector of Allen Hall, where he has served until now.
Monsignor O'Toole will be consecrated a bishop Jan. 28, 2014, and succeeds Bishop Emeritus Hugh Budd, who is 76 and was Bishop of Plymouth from 1986.
The Plymouth diocese serves southwestern England: the counties of Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset. Monsignor O'Toole commented that “this part of the country is known for its outstanding natural beauty, and this is mirrored in the gracious welcome shown to the newcomer by its people.”
He noted the importance of the Archdiocese of Westminster, and Allen Hall Seminary, in his own experience, and said, “I will miss especially everyone at Allen Hall. I have seen how essential the vocation of the priest is for our Church and our society. I hope I can continue to make its promotion a priority in this new mission.”
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster stated that the bishop elect is “a dedicated, gifted and experienced priest who will become an excellent Bishop of Plymouth … we shall miss him but always hold him in our prayers especially as he prepares to take up this new mission, given by the Lord.”