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Fr Alan Williams named new Bishop of Brentwood

By on Monday, 14 April 2014

Bishop-elect Alan Williams (Bishops Conference of England and Wales)

Bishop-elect Alan Williams (Bishops Conference of England and Wales)

Father Alan Williams SM has been named the new Bishop of Brentwood. The appointment, made by Pope Francis, was announced at a press conference this morning.

Fr Williams will be the seventh Bishop of Brentwood. He is currently director of The National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. His episcopal ordination will take place at Brentwood Cathedral on July 1 2014 at noon.

“I am both surprised and humbled to have been appointed by Pope Francis as the new Bishop of Brentwood. There is indeed a God of surprises and in my life as a priest and religious I have learned to trust ever more in the grace of God for whatever task has been assigned to me,” he said.

“The Diocese of Brentwood embraces many and diverse communities in city and rural locations. I look forward to getting to know the people and clergy of the Diocese; I am aware that I will have a lot of learning and listening to do.

“Emeritus Pope Benedict encouraged Shrine Directors to have a special regard for those on the margins of the Church, ‘of weak ecclesial affiliation’. Great numbers of those on the margins make their way to England’s National Shrine at Walsingham. I believe that the pilgrim journey is an invitation to everyone; Pope Francis reminds us that those who accept the gospel are set free- ‘With Christ joy is constantly born anew’.

“There are many parishes, educational and other communities in Brentwood Diocese and my previous ministries as parish priest, teacher and school and university chaplain, have made me eager to share Christ’s joy with all whom I meet.

“I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor Bishop Thomas McMahon for his faithful and long service to the Diocese. I have worked in a number of different dioceses in England and I know that I can count on the generous support of the priests and deacons of Brentwood.

“I ask for your continued prayers as I undertake my new ministry. Over the years many pilgrims from Brentwood Diocese have made their way to Walsingham; my own pilgrimage now takes me to Brentwood under the patronage of Mary the mother of Jesus and all the saints of the Diocese.”

The bishop-elect was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1951. He took final vows in the Society of Mary [Marist Fathers] in 1981 and was ordained priest in St Anne’s Whitechapel in 1983.

Fr Williams holds degrees in theology, psychology and religious education and has served in a number of pastoral roles. He has worked as a teacher and chaplain in secondary schools. He also served as Catholic Chaplain at Sheffield Hallam University and taught Christian Spirituality at postgraduate level.

He is a former major superior of the Marist Fathers in England and has worked as a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Southwark. At Walsingham he has had overall responsibility for pilgrimage and retreat work.

Bishop Thomas McMahon, who Fr Williams is replacing, has served the diocese for nearly 34 years. Bishop Thomas reached retirement age three years ago and has been awaiting the appointment of a successor since then.

Bishop McMahon said: “I have been hugely privileged to be Bishop of this diocese for 34 years and now it is time to look to the future.

“I very much welcome the appointment of Fr Alan Williams SM as my successor. Those who have met him in his role at Walsingham – including many from our diocese – have always been deeply impressed by the outstanding hospitality, thoughtfulness and care for pilgrims that he has shown there. He now brings these pastoral gifts – so important in today’s Church and especially under the present pontificate – to a new and wider role as our next Bishop.

“Part of his charism is that focus on mission which is particularly to do with the fields of evangelisation and education. His skills are wide-ranging: as a former Major Superior to the Marist Communities in Britain, he has leadership experience; he has the pastoral experience of working in a parish; and his work in education is particularly apt for a diocese with nearly 100 schools.”


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  • South Saxon

    Good news. Fr Alan has been a welcoming presence at Walsingham.

  • John

    Is he orthodox?

  • Charles

    Yes, very welcome news indeed! My hunch was that this was a good appointment, bearing in mind Fr Alan’s extensive and varied ministries & his educational qualifications. My hunch was certainly confirmed at our 1230 Mass today when our Parish Priest spoke in glowing terms about Fr Alan and admitted to “jumping for joy” when he heard the news!!


    No. Catholic. Roman Catholic.

  • John

    Is he is faithful to proclaiming Jesus as a saviour outside of which there is no salvation? Extra ecclesiam nulla salus

  • Alan40

    He teaches the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • Charles

    Our Parish Priest also happens to be the “Father Prior” of an orthodox/traditional religious community which is growing – we are very blessed indeed to have these good and holy men ministering to us – therefore, that “glowing reference” by our PP tells me all I need to know about the Bishop-elect. Thanks be to God; thanks to the Holy Father; thanks to the Papal Nuncio………….our prayers do indeed appear to have been answered.

  • Doris

    Hope he cleans out all the heretics working in Brentwood Diocese Curia. Under Bishop Thomas McMahon these dissenters flourished, let us now hope that good appointments are made to the Curia.

  • Thomlift

    God bless FR Williams
    Now the Diocese can move forward

  • StephenPaul

    I welcome the appointment of Fr. Williams as the new Bishop of Brentwood. It is time to throw open the windows of the diocese and let the fresh air of the Spirit blow through.
    If ever there was a diocese in need of renewal at every level, it is Brentwood. The Shepherd is there to serve his flock, not be served by them. God bless Fr. Williams in his new appointment.

  • Charles

    I echo the comments made by Doris and StephenPaul – although the comment “…and let the fresh air of the Spirit blow through” must, of course, be that sound doctrinal orthodoxy of Spirit which Holy Mother Church requires, not that “Spirit of Vatican II” which is sadly so prevalent in so many places! I do hope that Fr Williams will, in due course, follow the example of some notable American Bishops and set out clear diocesan guidelines on (1) Communion under both kinds, and (2) Sacred Music in the Liturgy. Almighty God please give him the humility, love, patience, persistence, respect, stamina and strength to fulfil the extremely demanding role that he has been appointed to.

  • StephenPaul

    Yes Charles, I was referring to the sound doctrinal orthodoxy of Spirit which Holy Mother Church requires and not the spirit of Vatican II. Your parish is the perfect example of how the Catholic Church should be in this country. I should know being a former parishioner.

  • Charles

    Many thanks Stephen Paul and I shall have to ensure our Community see your most complimentary comment – I expect one of them will read it sometime tomorrow anyway! Are you still in this diocese, or elsewhere?