Bishop Malcolm McMahon has been appointed the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool.
The appointment was announced this morning before the archbishop-elect was due to celebrate Mass at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
Archbishop-Elect McMahon’s Mass of Installation as Archbishop of Liverpool will be celebrated at 12 noon on Thursday 1 May 2014, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.
Speaking at a press conference in the Metropolitan Cathedral Archbishop-Elect McMahon said:
“I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed by our Holy Father Pope Francis as Archbishop of Liverpool. I promise to do my best to repay the trust that he has placed in me, and which the priests and people of the Archdiocese of Liverpool are being asked to put in me from today.
“I would like to thank Archbishop Patrick Kelly for his many years of service in this Archdiocese, and Bishop Tom Williams, who has been Apostolic Administrator since Archbishop Kelly’s retirement last year.
“I am grateful to my family and friends, my Dominican brethren, and the priests and people of the Diocese of Nottingham for their support, guidance and friendship. I am naturally sorry to be leaving Nottingham, my home for the last thirteen years, and I will miss the people there; I hope that the prayers of my Diocese will come with me as I prepare to bid them a fond farewell shortly after Easter.
“The Archdiocese of Liverpool has a long and proud history, rich in the tradition of missionary discipleship. We just have to think of the many priests, deacons, religious and laypeople who have done so much to proclaim the Kingdom of God and who gave their lives in his service, and the Archdiocese’s parishes, churches and schools are living witnesses to God’s love for us. The rich and living Catholic heritage of the Archdiocese should inspire us and challenge us, and I know that I can rely on the prayers and support of the Catholic faithful as I take up the challenge which lies ahead of me.
“I am also looking forward to working with my fellow Christians from other Churches and communities, people from all religious traditions, and civic and political leaders, building up the good relationships which already exist between us, in our endeavour to serve the common good.
“From the day of my installation I will do my level best to lead, guide and serve the people of this great Archdiocese, in Liverpool, west Lancashire and the Isle of Man, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. There is much work to be done, because the challenges which we face as a community are real. But we are a people of hope; just as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is visible for miles around, speaking to us of God’s presence in our midst, I pray that all of us in the Archdiocese of Liverpool will be living signs of God’s eternal love, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ in all that we say and do.
“I ask for the prayers of our heavenly patrons, Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Saint Joseph and Saint Kentigern, and the entire Catholic community as I begin my ministry as Archbishop of Liverpool, and I assure you of my prayers in return. Let us make the words of Pope John Paul II, spoken here in the Metropolitan Cathedral in 1982, our own: ‘Send forth your Spirit, O Lord! Renew our hearts and minds with the gifts of light and truth. Renew our homes and families with the gifts of unity and joy. Renew our cities and our countries with true justice and lasting peace.’”
Bishop McMahon, a Dominican priest, was ordained in 1982 and was appointed Bishop of Nottingham in November 2000.
He is chairman of the bishops’ conference Department of Education and Formation and is national president of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace group.
He is also chairman of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) and chairman of the board of trustees for the Catholic Trust for England and Wales.
Mass attendance in the Archdiocese of Liverpool has declined in recent decades with 260,000 attending in 1960 falling to 89,000 in 1998. Current attendance is at 55,000, although 574,000 are baptised Catholic.
It was estimated in 2010 that Liverpool would lose 70 priests by 2015, marking a drop of almost 40 per cent.
Bishop McMahon read mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) and was a student activist, joining the Young Christian Students movement.
Fr Jack Fay, the movement’s former national chaplain, once described Bishop McMahon as a “great leader of men”. He said: “He could get people to do anything. They relied on him for the final word. If you agreed to do something with Malcolm then you did it.”
After university, Bishop McMahon moved back to London, the city where he was born, and worked as an area bus manager. Several years later he discovered his vocation to the priesthood. He was ordained by Cardinal Hume and joined the Dominican order because he longed for community and admired their “sense of inquiry, the continuing preoccupation with truth in the world”.
Bishop Thomas Williams, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Liverpool welcomed the announcement saying: “I have to say on behalf of Archbishop Emeritus Patrick and the priests and people of the Archdiocese how pleased we are to welcome Archbishop-Elect Malcolm. We have always been well blessed with our Archbishops and are grateful and appreciative of the gifts and talents and service given by Archbishop Emeritus Patrick.
“We welcome Archbishop-Elect Malcolm with open arms and fully commit ourselves to him in a spirit of brotherly love and service. We know he is a Londoner and an Arsenal supporter but nevertheless we welcome him unconditionally.”
Monsignor Thomas McGovern, Vicar General of the Diocese of Nottingham, paid tribute to the work of Bishop McMahon in the Diocese: “All of us in the Diocese of Nottingham are sorry to be losing Bishop Malcolm after over thirteen years as our Bishop. Since he came to us in December 2000, he has become a well-loved and well-respected shepherd, and we will miss him. The priests, deacons, religious and laypeople of our Diocese will look back on his ministry here with great affection, and Bishop Malcolm can be assured of our prayers for him as he prepares to take up his duties as Archbishop of Liverpool, where we hope that he will be very happy. I am sure that his kind personality, good sense of humour and commitment to social justice will endear him very quickly to the priests and people of his new Archdiocese, and that they will be richly blessed by his presence among them.”