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Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Ralph Heskett, a Redemptorist who has led the Church in Gibraltar, as the new Bishop of Hallam.
Bishop Heskett, 61, said he was sad to leave the Mediterranean territory he “fell in love with” on his first visit more than 30 years ago, and thought he would live out his days there.
Born in Sunderland, he joined the Redemptorists in 1971 was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. From 1987 to 1990 he was Superior of the Redemptorist Community at Kinnoull, Perth, and director of Missions.
He succeeds Bishop John Rawsthorne, 77, who led the diocese for 17 years.
“It is with great sadness that I announce that I must take my leave,” wrote Bishop Heskett.
“It is sometimes difficult to see the hand of God at work in the different circumstances of life but having had the time to reflect over the last few days on recent events, I am sure that this change in all our lives is part of God’s plan for the diocese of Gibraltar, for the priests and people of the Hallam diocese and for me.
“I came to Gibraltar to be bishop in a spirit of obedience to Pope Benedict and now, I must leave in a spirit of obedience to Pope Francis to take up the new mission he has entrusted to me.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that for the past four years Bishop Heskett had attended plenary meetings of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales as an official observer, which “has been very much valued and appreciated”.
A date for his installation in St Marie’s Cathedral in Sheffield has yet to be announced.