It has been announced today by 10 Downing St that The Revd Paul Thomas will be the new Bishop of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield.
Father Paul is currently the Vicar of St James’s Church in Paddington, London.
As Bishop of Oswestry, he will minister to Traditional Catholic parishes in Lichfield and the other dioceses of the West Midlands and south west of England – 13 dioceses in total. Although his see is named for Oswestry, Fr Paul will live centrally in Lichfield Diocese to allow him easy access to transport networks as he supports churches across these dioceses.
The move is part of wider changes nationally to continue to offer extended episcopal care to parishes that on theological grounds cannot accept the priestly or episcopal ministry of women. It sees the relocation of the centrally-funded post of Provincial Episcopal Visitor from the See of Ebbsfleet to the See of Oswestry, which has been revived specifically for this purpose.
Fr Paul said: “The call of the Church to serve God in this apostolic ministry is both humbling and exhilarating. I look forward to working in close and happy collegiality with Bishop Michael, his gifted brother and sister bishops in Lichfield Diocese, and with all bishops across the 13 dioceses that fall within the new See of Oswestry. Strengthened by the example and intercession of St Chad and the many saints of his age, I commit myself to being a missionary bishop, a dedicated pastor, and a vigorous evangelist of the Faith, serving joyfully all those who look to me as their source of sacramental life in Christ.”
Following the announcement, Fr Paul attended the Eucharist Service at Lichfield Cathedral with the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Sarah Bullock (pictured above), and visited St Gabriel's Church in Walsall and Christchurch in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, where he also visited the community pantry in Tunstall Market (all pictured below.)
Fr Paul (47) has been the Vicar of St James’s Church in Paddington since 2011 and was Area Dean of Paddington from 2016 to 2021 as well as Acting Archdeacon of Charing Cross from 2017 to 2019. He was ordained Deacon in 2002 following ministerial formation at Cuddesdon, and ordained Priest in 2003. Following a curacy in Wanstead, he served a second curacy at St Marylebone Parish Church where in addition to being Assistant Priest he was also Chaplain to St Marylebone School and Chaplain to the Royal Academy of Music. Fr Paul was a member of the Liturgical Commission from 2006 to 2016, and is the author of two books on the liturgy. He is married to Louisa whom he met at Cardiff University and who was born and raised in West Bromwich. They have two boys, Henry (8) and George (4).
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, said: “On behalf of the diocese of Lichfield, I warmly welcome Fr Paul and look forward to the enrichment that his ministry as a suffragan bishop will bring to us all in this diocese. My episcopal colleagues and I recognise that his duties will regularly take him far beyond the bounds of Lichfield, but we hope that our friendship and practical
support will be an encouragement to him as he ministers across the wide geographical range of clergy and parishes that will look to him for extended pastoral and sacramental care.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: “I am delighted to welcome Fr Paul Thomas as the new Bishop of Oswestry. In his new role he will have the support of being embedded with a strong diocesan team, while keeping his shared responsibility with Bishop Norman of Richborough for Traditional Catholics across the Province of Canterbury. I send my very best wishes and assurance of my prayers to Fr Paul, to all in Traditional Catholic parishes, and all in the Diocese of Lichfield.”
Fr Paul will be consecrated as Bishop of Oswestry at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday 2 February. You can watch the live-stream on the cathedral's YouTube channel.
Further images from the day can be seen on our Flickr site.