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Former Bishop of Shrewsbury laid to rest

Emeritus Bishop Brian Noble of Shrewsbury was laid to rest in a Wirral churchyard after a vigil Mass and Requiem Mass last week.

In keeping with the wishes of Bishop Noble, the 10th Bishop of Shrewsbury, the vigil Mass was celebrated in Shrewsbury Cathedral and his funeral at the Church of St Michael and All Angels in Woodchurch, the Wirral.

Preaching at the vigil Mass in the company of Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, and other bishops, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury remembered his predecessor foremost as “a faithful priest”.

“He sought to respond to the grace of his Christian calling, to the mission entrusted to him through ordination,” said Bishop Davies.

“Whatever our personal memories, we can all picture Bishop Brian standing here at the altar, the very place where he would wish us to remember him,” he said.

The funeral was attended by almost 500 people, including Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool and Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, with the church so packed that some of the mourners followed the Mass outside in the cold.

The homily was preached by Mgr John McManus, who served Bishop Noble as vicar general of the diocese.

“He poured out his life for us,” said Mgr McManus. “Illness or grief cannot cripple love, cannot shatter hope, cannot kill friendship, cannot shut out memories, it cannot lessen the power of the Resurrection.

“If anyone taught us that, surely it was Bishop Brian Noble, our pastor and teacher and friend to his very last breath.”

Bishop Noble was born in Lancaster in 1936, went to school in Preston and was ordained as a priest of the Lancaster Diocese in 1960.

He served as the director of pastoral studies at the Beda College in Rome and was appointed Bishop of Shrewsbury in 1995.

Four years later he was diagnosed with the first of two serious illnesses, but he recovered, and he eventually retired in 2010.

Bishop Noble remained active in the diocese, however, until his death at the age of 83 in Arrowe Park Hospital, the Wirral, on October 21.

He was buried in the cemetery of St Winefride’s Church in Neston, the Wirral, where Bishop Joseph Grey is also buried.