Anniversary Mass for Archbishop Derek Worlock

1969347681_ArchbishopWorlock.jpg The Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, is to celebrate Mass in memory of his predecessor Archbishop Derek Worlock who died fifteen years ago on 8 February 1996. Archbishop Kelly will celebrate the 5.15 pm Mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on Tuesday 8 February  before leading the congregation in prayer for Archbishop Derek at his tomb in St Joseph’s Chapel.

Archbishop Derek Worlock was Archbishop of Liverpool for twenty years from 1976 to 1996 having previously been Bishop of Portsmouth. He died in Lourdes Hospital, Liverpool on Thursday 8th February 1996 following a long battle with cancer.

All are welcome to attend the Mass.


Derek John Harford Worlock was born in London on 4th February 1920, the second son of Captain Harford Worlock and Dora Worlock. After his family moved to Winchester in 1930, he attended Winton House Preparatory School, and began his studies for the priesthood in January 1934 at St Edmund's College, Ware, in Hertfordshire, and studied later at the nearby seminary, Allen Hall. Cardinal Bernard Griffin ordained him to the priesthood on 3rd June 1944 in Westminster Cathedral, and after a brief time as an assistant priest in Our Lady of Victories, Kensington, in war-torn London, he was appointed Private Secretary to the Cardinal. He remained at Westminster, as Secretary to three successive Cardinals, for some 19 years. There followed in 1964 a short time as parish priest of St Mary and St Michael's, Stepney, with a team of five priests.

Between 1962 and 1965 he attended every session of the Second Vatican Council as an expert (peritus), on the role of lay people in the Church, and as Secretary to the English and Welsh Bishops attending the Council. He was appointed Bishop of Portsmouth in 1965 shortly after the end of the Council. Whilst in Portsmouth he set about implementing the decrees of the Council, and he made his special concern the renewal of the parishes, as well as the work of developing ecumenical relationships. He oversaw the building of over thirty new churches in the Diocese. Meanwhile his work in the Church internationally continued with his appointment to the Holy See's Council for the Laity, and frequent meetings in Rome, including the meetings of the Synod of Bishops.

When the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales was set up officially in 1967 Bishop Worlock served it as Episcopal Secretary alongside the President, Cardinal Heenan. He then served as Vice-President of the Conference with its President, Cardinal Hume. One of his responsibilities was liaison between the Bishops and the National Conference of Priests, and when ill health forced him to miss its meeting in September 1992 it was the first meeting he had missed in 23 years.

In February 1976 he was appointed Archbishop of Liverpool in succession to Archbishop Beck, his installation taking place in the Metropolitan Cathedral on 19th March 1976. Since then memorable events in the Cathedral have included the National Pastoral Congress in 1980; the Papal Visit in 1982, and the launch in Liverpool in 1990 of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland. Great appreciation has also been expressed for the Archbishop's contribution to the work of reconciliation after the Toxteth riots and in the aftermath of the tragedies at Heysel and Hillsborough.

In all of this he has been committed to the welfare of family life, the social needs of people and the building up of relationships in parishes and deaneries. At the heart of it has been his concern for mission and evangelisation, exemplified in the Liverpool Archdiocesan Missionary Project providing priests to serve in South America, and in his collaboration with his fellow Church Leaders. The Archbishop's double commitment 'to Christ and the City' is well expressed in the books which he and Bishop David Sheppard jointly produced - 'Better Together' and 'With Hope in our Hearts'. It was appropriate that, in the light of this ecumenical commitment, the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland (CCBI) should be launched in Liverpool in 1990.

In December 1990 the Archbishop celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his appointment as a Bishop with a Mass of Thanksgiving in Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral. In July 1992 the Archbishop underwent surgery for lung cancer. He later became vice-president of the Lung Cancer Fund. On 3rd June 1994 the Archbishop celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, and in January 1995 together with Bishop David Sheppard was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. The Archbishop received Honorary Degrees from Liverpool University, Liverpool John Moores University, Cambridge University and in October 1995 from Southampton University. He completed thirty years as a bishop in October 1995.

Archbishop Worlock was created a Companion of Honour in the 1996 New Year Honours List, the highest civil award then accorded to a Catholic Bishop.