It has hardly been an average first few months in Northampton for Bishop David Oakley. He was ordained Bishop two days before lockdown began, with a limited number in our Cathedral to meet and celebrate with him. He was then alone in Bishops House, becoming extremely ‘zoom fatigued’ as he attempted to not waste those precious first few moments of his Episcopal life.
During this time we have heard and seen glimpses of who he is and his vision for our diocese. Although he is at pains to clarify that we cannot run top down – our mission is most evident in the day to day undertakings of our parishioners – he is keen to guide us into a missionary future, where our actions depict our authentic faith.
He called all students in Catholic schools across our diocese into the challenge of holiness recently. Siting Carlo Acutis, a young Italian boy born in London as an example. Carlo died aged 15 from leukaemia in 2005. He will be beatified in October in Assisi where he is buried. Carlo was an ordinary young man who, by placing Jesus at the centre of his life, became an extraordinary example of holiness for us all.
Bishop David reminded us all recently that Saints were not perfect human beings,
“We are called to become Saints, but Saints are not those who have never done anything wrong. Saints are people who, having become aware of their weakness and failures, turn to the Lord in confidence, they live not in their own strength but in the power of Gods mercy and forgiveness”
This is the call from our new Bishop as we begin a new academic year in very unusual circumstances. In times of uncertainty it can create space for our faith to shine through our actions. As Bishop David says it is time for,
“Each one of us to proclaim the Kingdom of God with conviction and integrity”.