Farewell Mass for Bishop Tom

by Dr. James Campbell

There was a Farewell and Welcome Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral Church of Saint Joseph, Swansea, on 23 July, 2019, for the retiring Bishop of Menevia , Bishop Tom Burns.

Pope Francis has appointed the Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack, as the Apostolic Administrator of the Menevia Diocese. In the handover of authority Bishop Tom’s Coat of Arms (pictured here) was removed from the Cathedra and the Bishop vacated his throne for the Apostolic Administrator Archbishop George Stack. Both are pictured here.

Bishop Tom studied for the priesthood and the religious life at the Marist Monastery, in Paignton, Devon, and was ordained in 1971. In 1986 he was commissioned as a full-time Chaplain in the Royal Navy and his service as a chaplain included the Falklands war. On the opening of the Trip-Service Champlaincy Centre at Amport house, near Andover, in April 1996 he became the first Roman Catholic chaplain to serve there. joining colleagues from other major churches on the Directing Staff..

In May 1998 Father Tom was promoted an appointed Monsignor and Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain (Naval). He became Bishop of the Forces on 18 June 2002, becoming fully engaged in official and pastoral visits to Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force units 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 ad their dependents, served by over 40 full-time Catholic Chaplains and a number of TA and Officiating Chaplains.

Bishop Tom was also the Catholic Church’s Apostolic Visitor for the Prefecture of the Falkland Islands, which also includes St Helena, Tristan da Cuhha, Ascension Island and South Georgia. In addition he was the Bishop Promoter for the Apotleship of the Sea, whose Chaplains cover some 25 commercial seaports around the coast of England and Wales.

He was installed as Bishop of Menevia in 1st December 2008 and, on attaining the canonical age of retirement on 75 on 3rd June 2019, he offered his resignation to the Holy Father which was accepted by Pope Francis on 11th July 2019.

He will take up his retirement in Newport, in the Archdiocese of Cardiff … but as Archbishop George said, he has offered to take a full part in religious duties.

Archbishop George added, in a tribute to Bishop Tom, that he valued his colleague’s advice and counsel and that the Archdiocese would benefit from his presence and involvement in the life and work of the Archdiocese of Cardiff.