In a moving celebration held today, on the 24th of September—the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham—Bishop Peter Collins of East Anglia led a solemn Mass to usher in a new era for the Catholic National Shrine. Sharing the altar with him were Bishop Emeritus Alan Hopes, Bishop Emeritus Michael Campbell OSA, Fr Kevin Smith, the Administrator of the Anglican Shrine, and an assembly of 14 priests, including the newly inducted Rector, Fr Robert Billing.
Fr Robert Billing officially assumed his appointment as the Rector of the Catholic National Shrine during this special Mass, succeeding in a position that carries significant responsibilities and expectations within the Catholic community.
A Homily of Gratitude and Guidance
During the homily, Bishop Peter Collins expressed his heartfelt sentiments and affirmed the significance of the appointment. “As Bishop of the diocese and as guardian of the National Shrine, it has been my responsibility and privilege, with the approbation of the Standing Committee of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, to nominate and appoint Fr Robert Billing as our new Rector here at the National Shrine,” said His Grace.
He continued: “I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to Bishop Paul Swarbrick, Bishop of Lancaster, for his generosity in releasing Fr Robert for this great service. I also thank Fr Robert for his steadfast fidelity to the fullness of faith, to the ministerial priesthood, and to the vital mission of evangelisation.”
A Call to Devotion and Service
The bishop then invoked divine blessings upon Fr Robert Billing’s new ministry. “Ever obedient to Christ and allegiant to His Church, ever devoted to the Mother of God and her powerful intercession, may Fr Robert’s service to God’s holy people prosper a rich and abundant harvest,” he concluded.
Below, you can find a collection of photographs capturing the solemnity of the occasion, as well as Fr Robert Billing’s letter of appointment.