Bishop Malone: A true champion of Catholic education

By Tony Charnock

My first real contact with Bishop Vincent Malone was in the early 1970s when I joined the Catholic Teachers’ Federation (CTF). Later when I became secretary of the Liverpool branch, our friendship developed and I grew to know him much better. He was, as a former teacher, very interested and involved in everything to do with education, and over the years – through my own involvement serving on the Archdiocesan Schools’ Commission and as a head teacher – our paths crossed frequently.

When he became the Cathedral administrator, despite the very many calls on his time, he was still very supportive of the CTF. He was always willing to enable our Mass to be celebrated in the Metropolitan Cathedral and attended several of our conferences, both locally and nationally. His advice on educational matters was always welcome and highly informative.

Bishop Vincent was a mild, quiet, humble and gentle person who showed kindness and respect to everyone he met. He had a very clear and incisive mind and, though he was willing to listen to all points of view, his clear and sharp intellect allowed him to see the essential and important parts of the matters under discussion and help to move the discussion forward. He was able to do this with great patience, even when conversations became heated.

His contribution on many Archdiocesan working parties regarding Catholic education, such as those looking at its future across the diocese, was very much appreciated and valued by all involved – even by those who might have thought differently to himself. He was respected by everyone and his sincerity, honesty and integrity were always admired.

His involvement and interest in education went across the whole spectrum, from nursery to university and in support of all those involved in Catholic education. When undertaking a school visit he would arrive well prepared with knowledge of the school and its community. He had a great interest in the staff and made sure there was time to meet and chat to them. He wanted to hear what they were doing and always gave encouragement to them in what, at some periods over the past 40 years, was a very challenging vocation.

Though he was somewhat shy by nature, his real affection for the children came through, permitting him to engage with them at their level. He was interested to see their work, to ask them about what they were learning and what their future hopes were. Along with his warm smile, there was always some good advice to give to them too before he left.

Bishop Vincent was concerned to improve and develop all aspects of Catholic education, including the people who volunteered to be governors of our Catholic schools. He wanted them to be properly trained so that they understood their important role in the development and oversight of our Catholic schools. He was always supportive of the Archdiocese’s plans to ensure they had the resources and professional support to enable them to do their work.

Bishop Vincent was also a regular visitor to Chorley where I worked, as well as to other areas around the Archdiocese, to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to our young people. In celebrating this important milestone in their lives, he was always ready and eager to meet the young people and their families after the celebration and had a quiet greeting for each of them.

Bishop Vincent was an unfailing servant of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and a wonderful supporter and champion of our Catholic schools and universities and of all those who worked in education. May he rest in peace.