On Wednesday 3 October 2012 at 7.30pm, School Principal, Mr Barry Kelly and Dr Denis Moloney introduced Bishop John Arnold to his audience to deliver the inaugural Aquinas lecture in honour of past staff member, the late Paula Grant (RIP). These lectures will become an annual fixture in the Aquinas calendar.

The invited audience had representatives from Lagan College, Victoria College, Wellington College, Assumption Grammar School and St Dominic’s Grammar.  Other guests included former moderators of the Presbyterian Church, Rev Ken Newell and his wife as well as Rev Samuel Hutchinson. Bishop Patrick Walsh, Bishop Donal McKeown and Judge Corinne Philpott were also in attendance.

Bishop Arnold explained that all of us are on a spiritual journey in life with, as Cardinal John Henry Newman described,a definite life mission. Given the distractions in this materialistic, demanding world with the media telling us who we should be, it is important for us allto be “who we truly are”. He continuedthat prayer is the best way to realise our spiritual journey and, although difficult, can be as simple as a nightly examination of conscience, learning from thesuccesses and failures of the day just gone.

He further elaborated that we should never let feelings of unworthiness detract from our personal spiritual journey because as the Gospel showed, even the disciples had many flaws. He went on to articulate St Mark’s Gospel with a clarity and logic that showed the forgiveness of God in a very real way.

Bishop Arnold concluded by reminding his audience of St Paul’s words, that all of us are “Ambassadors of Christ” and although fear can be a negative emotion, we should perhaps nurture the fear of failing; because failing to realise that we have a definite life purpose, which forms part of our spiritual journey, is perhaps the greatest travesty of all.

Bishop John Arnold was ordained Bishop and appointed as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Westminster on 3rd February 2006. He holds the titular see of Lindisfarne and is a Chaplain to the Papal Household and chairman of the Oxford and Cambridge Catholic Education Board.

Bishop Arnold was born in Sheffield and attended Mylnhurst Convent School before attending Grace Dieu Manor School and Ratcliffe College, both schools run by the Institute of Charity (Rosminians). In 1975 he graduated with a law degree from Trinity College, Oxford and completed his legal qualification by being called to the Bar in the Middle Temple in 1976 after studies at the Council of Legal Education.

In the autumn of the same year, he entered the novitiate of the Institute of Charity (Rosminians), taking simple vows in 1978 before beginning studies at the Gregorian University in Rome. In 1981 he transferred to the Venerable English College and continued his studies for the Diocese of Westminster, completing both a Licence and a doctorate in Canon Law. He was ordained by Cardinal Basil Hume as a deacon in November 1982, and a priest in July 1983. With the completion of studies in Rome, he was appointed to Westminster Cathedral as a chaplain, with responsibilities for the Westminster Hospital in 1985.

In 2001 he was appointed as Chancellor and Vicar General by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. During this time he was primarily responsible for planning two consultations within the Diocese on spiritual renewal and forming a vision for the future, in response to Pope John Paul II’s invitation in “Novo Millennio Ineunte” (At the Beginning of the new Millennium). In 2003 he was made a Chaplain to the Papal Household.

During his appointment at the Cathedral, he assisted in the compilation of two books published by Cardinal Hume; “Light in the Lord” and “Towards a Civilisation of Love”. Having contributed to “AIDS: Meeting the Community Challenge”, he published “The Quality of Mercy, A fresh look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation” in 1993.