A priest who has served one diocese for more than 35 years, mostly as a parish priest, has been named today by Pope Francis as the new bishop of the same diocese, the Diocese of Lancaster.
Canon Paul Swarbrick, aged 59, from Garstang in Lancashire, who trained for the priesthood at Ushaw, confessed to "being in a state of surprise and shock" at his appointment.
He said he felt "great inadequacy" when faced with what lies ahead.
He added: "Since my ordination to the priesthood at Garstang in July 1982 this was never something I expected or feel prepared for. I have given my acceptance in a spirit of profound humility, deeply conscious of my unworthiness and sinfulness. It is a call to follow Jesus with greater trust and more generous love, ever mindful of what He has done for me and, ultimately, the fullness of life He calls me to share.
"I beg your daily prayers, your patience and your collaboration; our mission is to make our Lord, Jesus Christ more widely known and loved in the Diocese of Lancaster. I draw on the example of so many saints and martyrs, as well as on the witness and memory of my own wonderful parents, grandparents and family. Faced with so much that is unknown and uncertain I am comforted by the presence of the Good Shepherd who has promised never to forsake His flock. I will serve to the best of my ability.”
He succeeds Bishop Michael Campbell, whose resignation on reaching the age of 75 has been accepted by Pope Francis.
Bishop Campbell said: “I am delighted to welcome Canon Paul Swarbrick as my successor as Bishop of Lancaster, and I thank our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for naming Canon Paul as the seventh bishop of the Diocese. The news of Canon Swarbrick’s appointment will give much pleasure to many, both within and beyond the diocese. A native son of the Diocese of Lancaster, Bishop-Elect Swarbrick comes to the office of bishop with considerable pastoral experience, having served since his ordination in a number of parishes here in the diocese as well as a long period as a 'fidei donum' priest in the Diocese of Monze, Zambia. I know he will use these gifts to the great advantage of the priests and people of Lancaster, who will be well-served by their new bishop."
Canon Swarbrick, who has three sisters and one brother, went to primary school in Garstang and then on to Lancaster Royal Grammar school before going to Ushaw in Durham. Ordained priest on 10 July 1982 at Ss Mary & Michael’s church, Garstang, he served as assistant priest at St Mary, Kells, Whitehaven, St Maria Goretti, Preston and St Cuthbert, Blackpool where he was also Chaplain to St Mary’s Catholic High School, Blackpool. He went abroad to serve on the missions in Monze Diocese, Zambia from 1990 to 2005.
After returning from Zambia he assisted at English Martyrs, Preston and for a few months at Mater Amabilis, Ambleside until he was appointed parish priest of the Sacred Heart, Preston whilst also in charge of St Walburge, Preston. In 2010 he was appointed parish priest of Our Lady and St Michael, Workington, now the enlarged parish of Christ the Good Shepherd, Workington-Harrington where he currently serves. In 2015 he was made a Canon of Lancaster Cathedral Chapter.