Up to 30,000 pupils in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Portsmouth will be able to watch the episcopal ordination of Mgr Philip Egan on screens in their schools.
The ordination, and all subsequent services from St John’s Cathedral, will be streamed live on the internet here. A spokesman said the “vast majority” of schools in the diocese will be watching some of the two-hour Mass.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster will preside at the Mass, which begins at 2.30pm on Monday. It will also be attended by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 24 bishops and over 100 priests and deacons from the Portsmouth and Shrewsbury dioceses and elsewhere.
This week Bishop-elect Egan, previously vicar-general of Shrewsbury, wrote a heartfelt letter of farewell to his parishioners.
Writing in the autumn edition of the Shrewsbury Catholic Voice the bishop-elect of Portsmouth said: “It is impossible to express the mixture of emotions and thoughts all of this raises. It is hard to leave. I have been a priest of our Diocese of Shrewsbury for 28 years, even though 17 of them I have spent in apostolates elsewhere in Cambridge, Boston and Oscott, Birmingham.
“Altrincham is my home. It is there that my father and my family live, and Portsmouth is a long way away. I feel very deep bonds with the priests and people of our diocese. The last four years, I have totally given myself as the parish priest of Our Lady and St Christopher’s, Romiley.”
In his letter, the bishop-elect of Portsmouth described the run-up of events before the unexpected request from Pope Benedict XVI.
After a summons from the nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Mgr Egan travelled to meet him. He said: “The archbishop was truly gracious. He told me that the Holy Father wanted me to be the next Bishop of Portsmouth and that he wanted me to accept. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed I asked to spend some time in prayer in the nunciature chapel. An hour or so later I emerged and wrote the letter of acceptance to the Holy Father. The nuncio telephoned Bishop Mark Davies and asked me to telephone Bishop Crispian Hollis to tell him the news. I then left Wimbledon to make my way back to Romiley.”
He added: “Everything seemed unreal. I immediately went to Westminster Cathedral to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and to visit the shrine of St John Southworth, to whom I have had a devotion since my university days.”
He concluded the article by asking parishioners for their prayers in his new role as bishop.