“I am enjoying East Anglia no end,” began Bishop Peter, when he visited the studio on January 31. He then introduced the first piece of music which he had chosen to share.
It was ‘Guide my O Thou Great Redeemer’ which was followed by ‘Tantum Ergo’, ‘The Reproaches’ and ‘Ave Verum’.
Between the music, the interviewer, Diane Redmond, drew the Bishop out on some of his life story.
He was born, he said, in south-east Wales, the youngest of four children and grew up in a thriving Catholic community where buses brought worshippers to Mass from the outlying villages. It was removed from the wider world, and “the next valley was foreign territory”.
He went to secondary school in Merthyr Tydfil, and after responding to the call to priesthood was sent to seminary is Valladolid, in Spain – an ancient institution founded in 1589 by Robert Parsons SJ. It was now 1978, and his first Mass at the seminary was a Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul I.
In 1984 he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Cardiff and appointed to the Metropolitan Cathedral of St David’s in the capital.
After a second curacy at St Mary’s, Bridgend, he was surprised to be called back to Valladolid, this time to be vice-rector. The post brought with it further study – first a degree in Madrid and then licentiate studies at the University of Salamanca.
Returning to the UK, he was appointed parish priest of Chepstow and in 1995 attended the first national conference on safeguarding at Ushaw. It was providential piece of learning, as a major safeguarding case concerning his predecessor was about to come to light in his own parish. “Safeguarding has been a significant part of my ministry since that point,” he said.
In 2001 Bishop Edwin Regan moved him to become Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Cardiff – a post he held for 18 years. In 2019 he was appointed to the neighbouring parish of St Mary of the Angels, which was a larger Catholic community, with around 800 worshippers.
His tenure there was short-lived, however, as last October came the call from the Apostolic Nunciature saying that the Pope wished him to become Bishop of East Anglia.
“Norwich is so beautiful,” he said. “It’s all an adventure for me every time I go out in the car – it’s all new.”
He said that he was looking forward to visiting all the parishes in East Anglia. “It’s a delight to be in this wondrous diocese,” he concluded. “May the Lord bless you all.”
Radio Maria England was delighted to welcome Bishop Peter for this first broadcast and hopes it will be the first of many.
Fr Toby Lees OP, Priest Director of Radio Maria, quipped that though Bishop Peter was now in a much flatter diocese than his native Wales, he was sure listening figures would peak for the Bishop’s broadcasts. He added that the purpose of Radio Maria England is to be a microphone giving voice to all the good going on in the Church in this country, and he hopes that the Bishop and anyone in the diocese will contact us whenever they have stories that should be heard about the transforming love of Jesus Christ for us. “This is your radio!” he said.
Helena Judd, National Promotor at Radio Maria England, added: “Praying together through the radio can create communities for people who are isolated or who cannot travel. Or those that are travelling (such as taxi or lorry drivers) and cannot join communities.
“One of our missions is to teach the prayers, teach the faith, with the hope that this will build confidence in the listener or caller and encourage them to walk through the doors of the church and join in the joy of our Church physically.”
You can listen to Bishop Peter speaking on the Songs in the Wilderness programme here: spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/PSjKq9nS3wb.
Pictured above is Bishop Peter Collins with the Radio Maria England Team and, below, at the microphone.