I am honoured to be asked by Pope Francis and I am delighted to accept the appointment to be an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
I have been asked: How did you feel when you were asked to accept the appointment?
I was greatly surprised when I received a phone call inviting me to the Nunciature in London. I was welcomed very warmly by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti. I was even more surprised when he revealed the purpose of his invitation.
I have been encouraged by the responses of those who were informed of the appointment before this formal announcement today.
For now, I find peace in accepting the appointment from a trust that the Lord has placed in me. I have to deepen my relationship with Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep.
I was born into a Catholic family in Warrington. Our home, the parish I grew up in, St Oswald's Primary School, Padgate and English Martyrs High School in Orford, have been a powerful influence regarding the importance of faith in my life. It was Father Bill Cook, a curate in the parish, who asked me this question: 'Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?' That set me on a pathway of exploration which brought me to the Junior Seminary at St Joseph's, Upholland and to St Cuthbert's Senior Seminary, Durham.
After my Ordination in 1982, I spent four years as an assistant priest at St Cuthbert's, Wigan. This was followed by nine years in Skelmersdale as part of the Team Ministry. In 1996 I was appointed parish priest at St Julie's, St Helens. Over the next 24 years I also had responsibility for St Teresa's, Devon Street and English Martyrs, Haydock. Last September I joined the Clergy Team at St Wilfrid's, Widnes.
There is a very strong Catholic presence in this part of England. Throughout my life I have been privileged to witness testimony to the Catholic faith in families, in parishes and in schools. Last month we had our Archdiocesan Synod. The 19 recommendations that were presented to the Synod members to vote on are evidence of the desire to continue to witness to the Faith in the time in which we live.
One of the strong themes underpinning the recommendations is that of service. It is in this spirit that I hope to live my life as an Auxiliary Bishop.
Biography of Bishop-elect Thomas Neylon
Born in 1958, Bishop-elect Thomas Neylon is the oldest of three children of Irish parents who met in Warrington and were married at Sacred Heart Church in the town. His sister Mary lives in Cumbria and brother James in Newton-le-Willows.
His family lived in St Oswald's parish, and he attended the local primary school and then English Martyrs Secondary School, Orford. The Bishop-elect began training for the priesthood at St Joseph's College, Upholland at the age of 16 and then at St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, Durham.
Bishop-elect Neylon was ordained on Monday 31 May 1982 in Heaton Park, Manchester by Pope St John Paul II during the Papal Visit. Following Ordination, his first appointment was as assistant priest at St Cuthbert's, Wigan and four years later in 1986 he moved to join the Team Ministry serving Skelmersdale.
In 1996, he was appointed as parish priest of St Julie's, Eccleston, St Helens. In 2004 he took on responsibility for St Teresa's, Devon Street and in 2018 for English Martyrs, Haydock. During his 24 years in St Helens, he also served as Dean of St Helens, was appointed as a Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and as a member of the Chapter of Canons of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.
In September 2020 he was installed as parish priest of St Wilfrid's, Widnes.
In his spare time Bishop-elect Neylon enjoys spending time with his family – his sister and her husband in Cumbria and his brother and his family in Newton-le-Willows. He also enjoys walking, reading and rugby league where he supports Warrington Wolves.
He will be the ninth Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool appointed in the history of the Archdiocese and will assist Archbishop Malcolm McMahon alongside Bishop Tom Williams.