Pope Francis has appointed Bishop John Wilson as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Southwark.
Archbishop-elect Wilson succeeds The Most Reverend Peter Smith, who has been Archbishop of Southwark since 2010.
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster since 2015 and previously a priest in the Diocese of Leeds, Archbishop-elect Wilson said of his appointment: “Someone once said if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. In whatever way I might have imagined God’s plan for my life to unfold, the news of my appointment by Pope Francis as the new Archbishop of Southwark came as a complete surprise.”
“To say I am deeply humbled by my appointment, while absolutely true, hardly seems adequate. It is an immense privilege and I will do my very best to serve joyfully after the example of the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Aware of my unworthiness and limitations, and with more than a little trepidation, I am grateful to Pope Francis for entrusting me with this new mission in the service of the Lord and His people in the Archdiocese of Southwark. There is so much that is new to me and I know I have much to learn. I rely totally on the Holy Spirit to guide my new ministry of witnessing to the love of God for each person so that we might be evermore a Church of joyful missionary disciples, alive in Christ, our risen Saviour.”
The Archbishop-elect said he was looking forward to sharing the Church’s mission with Bishop Patrick Lynch and Bishop Paul Hendricks, and with the priests, deacons, religious and lay people of the Archdiocese.
“Together we step out into the future with confidence, trusting that the Lord is indeed with us. As we deepen our love for Him, we will continue to look outwards in the service of our brothers and sisters, not least the weakest and the poorest,” he said.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said:
"On behalf of the people, priests and religious of Westminster I assure Archbishop-elect Wilson of our whole-hearted support and prayers as he moves to take up his role as Archbishop of Southwark. We thank him most warmly for his service in Westminster both as an area bishop and a dedicated part of episcopal oversight of the Archdiocese, especially in education.”
John Wilson was born on 4 July 1968 in Sheffield. He studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and religious studies at the University of Leeds and began formation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Leeds at the Venerable English College, Rome in 1989. He was ordained to the priesthood six years later, and in 1995 appointed Assistant Priest at St Joseph’s, Pontefract, as well as hospital, hospice and school chaplain. He was appointed Assistant Priest at St Joseph’s, Bradford in 1998, and also served as a school chaplain.
In 1999, he was appointed Lecturer in moral theology at St Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw College, Durham. He also completed a PhD at Durham University and latterly served as Vice Rector. In 2005, he was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation in the Diocese of Leeds, a role he held until 2012. From 2008 to 2014 he was also sessional chaplain at HMP Leeds. In 2011 he was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI. During the vacancy of the see, he was elected Administrator of the Diocese of Leeds by the College of Consultors from September 2012 to November 2014. From 2015 to 2016 he served as Parish Priest of St Martin de Porres, Wakefield.
On 24 November 2015 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Lindisfarne by Pope Francis. He was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 25 January 2016. He had pastoral care of the deaneries in the western area of the diocese. He was also Chair of the Education Commission and responsible for Liturgy, Art and Architecture, as well as the Historic Churches Commission.
Archbishop-elect Wilson's installation as eleventh Archbishop of Southwark by Pope Francis will take place in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on 25 July.