New Bishop of Menevia announced

 Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Tom M Burns SM, currently Bishop of the Forces (GB), as the next Bishop of Menevia in succession to Bishop Mark Jabalé OSB, whose resignation has been accepted by the Holy Father on grounds of age (reaching 75). The official announcement will be made in Rome at 12 noon, 1100 British time, Thursday 16 October 2008. Until that time, the news is strictly embargoed, at the express wishes of the Holy See and the Papal Nuncio.

The installation of Bishop Burns as the 11th Bishop of Menevia will take place during Mass in St Joseph's Cathedral, Swansea, on Monday 1 December 2008 at 11.30. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor will conduct the Installation. In the meantime, Bishop Tom requests the prayers of everyone, as he completes 25+ years of ministry in the Forces, first of all as a Naval Chaplain, then as Principal Chaplain and Vicar General, and now in the last six years as military Bishop. He says that it has been a joy and a privilege for him to serve the Church in this way, and thanks everyone most sincerely for their support and friendship. He is now looking forward to moving to Menevia and getting to know the clergy and people of the Diocese.

Speaking of his new appointment, Bishop Tom said: "I feel honoured yet humbled by the Holy Father's wish that I should become the next Bishop of Menevia. It is with mixed feelings that I leave the Forces, which has been my life for the last 25 years, first of all as a Naval Chaplain, then as Principal Chaplain and Vicar General, and for the last 6 years as military Bishop. I have enjoyed these years enormously. Now I am looking forward to joining my new family in Wales, and getting to know the priests and people of my new Diocese".

Tom Burns was born in Belfast on 3 June 1944. When the family moved to England he was educated by the Marist Fathers, first of all at St Mary's College, Blackburn, and then for two years in the Sixth Form at Winslade School, Exeter. From there he applied to join the Society of Mary, and began his studies for the Priesthood and the religious life at the Marist Monastery in Paignton, Devon. Ordained in 1971, he obtained an Honours Degree in Divinity from London University, as well as a Diploma in Business Studies. After spending two years in the Marist parish at Whitechapel in the East End of London, he taught 'A' Level Economics in Marist Schools at Sidcup in Kent and Blackburn in Lancashire. During this time he became a graduate of the Open University, specialising in Economics and Social Studies.

In 1986 Father Tom was commissioned as a full-time Chaplain in the Royal Navy. After training at HMS RALEIGH and Britannia Royal College he served as a Chaplain in HMS DRAKE and Devonport Naval Base. From there he went to sea with the ships of the first Flotilla (to the Falklands, the Gulf and the Caribbean), and then joined the Chaplaincy Team in Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth. Leaving the Navy in 1992, he took up an appointment as Bursar General at the Marists Fathers' Headquarters in Rome but subsequently rejoined the Royal Navy in January 1994. His first appointment was again to sea, for a period of 18 months, when he joined the staff of the Initial Sea Training Department in the newly created post of Chaplain to the Ships embarking Officer Cadets for their first experience of sea-going life. After completing the Initial Staff Course at Greenwich Royal Naval College, he proceeded to Portsmouth, where he headed up an ecumenical team working in HMS NELSON and the Naval Base. Six months later, on the opening of the Tri-Service Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House, near Andover, in April 1996, he became the first Roman Catholic Chaplain to serve there, joining colleagues from the other major Churches on the Directing Staff, and teaching courses in Welfare and Counselling Skills to personnel from all three Services.

In May 1998 Father Tom was promoted and appointed Monsignor and Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain (Naval), first of all as Director Naval Chaplaincy Service (Training and Programmes), and then two years later as Director(Manning). He was appointed Queen's Honorary Chaplain on 29 May 1998. As a qualified Cricket Umpire and Rugby Union Referee, Monsignor Tom has in the past been fully occupied with 'pastoral' duties on Saturdays most weekends of the year. His other interests include crime thrillers and war stories, as well as keeping abreast of current affairs ­ and, not surprisingly, foreign travel ­ but for leisure rather than business.

Monsignor Tom became Bishop of the Forces on 18 June 2002. Since then, he has been fully engaged in official and pastoral visits to Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force units and establishments throughout the UK and overseas, including Iraq in Holy week 2005. The Bishopric of the Forces is a diocese without geographical boundaries, consisting of Service personnel and their dependants, served by over 40 full-time Chaplains and a number of TA and Officiating Chaplains.

Bishop Tom is the Catholic Church's Apostolic Visitor for the Prefecture of the Falkland Islands, which also includes St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Ascension Island, and South Georgia. In addition, he is the Bishop Promoter for the Apostleship of the Sea, whose Chaplains cover some 25 commercial sea-ports around the coast of England and Wales. In 2005, at the request of the Bishops, he set up the St Luke's Centre, in Manchester, for the support of clergy and religious (women and men). He has an older sister who lives in Shropshire, and two nieces and a nephew.

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