‘I will be a pilgrim for Christ’
Publication Date: 2012-05-11
Auxiliary bishop for St Andrews and Edinburgh named; installation a key moment in transition period
‘I will be a pilgrim for Christ’ is the pledge of the new auxiliary bishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese who will assist Cardinal Keith O’Brien.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Mgr Stephen Robson, archdiocesan chancellor, to the role on Tuesday morning, and Cardinal O’Brien said his installation on June 9 would be a key moment in a period of transition for the Church in Scotland.
Cardinal O’Brien said that, as he approached his 75th birthday, he was ‘delighted’ Mgr Robson had been appointed his auxiliary bishop in order to ‘in the words of St Paul, make up what is lacking in my body for the body of the Church.’
When the cardinal announced the appointment of Mgr Robson, 61, at the Gillis Centre on Tuesday the news was greeted with cheers by the assembled staff.
Mgr Robson, who is also parish priest at Our Lady Star of the Sea, North Berwick and Our Lady of the Waves, Dunbar, told the SCO on Tuesday that he was ‘absolutely petrified’ at the prospect of becoming a bishop but that it was ‘tremendously affirming’ that the Holy Father had ‘seen some gifts in me to be able to appoint me here and I pray to God I can use the gifts that I have to support and serve the cardinal and the archdiocese.’
The cardinal said he had known Mgr Robson for more than 35 years and in that time ‘he has been involved with me in pastoral work and school work, seminary apostolate and during his further studies, literally everything a priest should be involved in.’
Mgr Robson said it had been a ‘tremendous privilege’ to have been associated with the cardinal for the past 36 years.
“He was my spiritual director when I entered the seminary, he assisted at my ordination and gave the homily at the first Mass I preached,” he recalled. “I know he said he needs my help to make up something lacking in himself, but I will have to rely on the Good Lord because without Him I can’t think of anything lacking I can make up.”
Mgr Robson said he was also aware that he was taking on a tough role at a difficult time for the Church.
“Someone said to me that to become a bishop nowadays is to wear not a mitre but a crown of thorns,” he said. “Leadership in the Church is a difficult vocation but one which has to be done, in which the Lord asks us the message of the Church be preached in season and out.”
He has had adopted the Episcopal motto, Peregrinatio pro Christo—On pilgrimage for Christ.
Installation and change
The cardinal said that he is very much looking forward to Mgr Robson’s Episcopal installation at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, on Saturday June 9, which will be a key moment in what is a period of transition for the Church in Scotland.
“I don’t expect to retire for another three years or so, but we are waiting for new appointments in Glasgow and Dunkeld, and Bishop Devine and Bishop Cunningham are both older than me,” he said. “It is a time of transition but I think it will be stimulating for the country.
Since being ordained as a priest in 1979 for St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese, Mgr Robson has held many positions in parishes across the archdiocese. He has been a tutor at Blairs College, he has worked in the department for religious education at Edinburgh University and he was spiritual director of the Pontifical Scottish Seminary in Rome from 1998 to 2006.
He is also a noted theological academic having won the Bellarmine medal in 2004 for one of the best doctoral thesis submitted that year to the Gregorian University in Rome.
The cardinal said that all of Mgr Robson’s scholastic achievements should not undermine the fact he ‘retained the common touch.’
Mgr Robson will remain chancellor of the archdiocese as well as parish priest at North Berwick and Dunbar.
“I celebrated Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea this morning before I came here.” he said. “Hopefully they will be happy for me when I get back tonight!”
— Pic: Paul McSherry