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Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth visits BRNC

2 August 2017
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth has paid his first visit to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) to celebrate mass with Officer Cadets and gain an insight into training.

During two days at the College, The Right Reverend Mark O’Toole met with the Commanding Officer, Capt Jol Woodard and was given a brief into the role the College plays in preparing young men and women for their future role as Naval officers.  He was also able to see at first-hand some of the training taking place.

The Bishop was joined by Father Michael Sharkey, the Roman Catholic Chaplain for the College for the mass together with Father Sunny Paul, the Roman Catholic priest for Brixham and Father P J Kelly, a retired Roman Catholic priest from the Dartmouth area.  

The mass took place in the Chapel of St Philip Howard and was also attended by staff and visitors from the local parishes.

I was struck by the dedication and generosity of the cadets, and the staff who are accompanying them at this important time of training and formation

The Right Reverend Mark O’Toole

Father Michael Sharkey said:  “It was a delight to welcome Bishop Mark O’Toole to BRNC for his first visit to the College.

“The main highlight of his visit was undoubtedly the celebration of mass in St. Philip Howard for the Roman Catholic Community of the College as well as those of other traditions who attended the mass.

“Bishop Mark’s gentle manner and excellent homily struck a chord with the whole congregation.” 

Other highlights of Bishop Mark’s visit included the opportunity to view some of the facilities the College has available for training. 

His second day began at 0730 when he addressed the Officer Cadets with a ‘Thought for the Day’ during parade practice. 

Father Sharkey said:  “Bishop Mark impressed both staff and officer cadets with his “Thought for the Day” on Divisions. 

“No one expected him to quote, Ed Sheeran. His message was both relevant and thought provoking drawing a parallel with the track “Save Yourself” from Sheeran’s “Divide” album.”

Bishop Mark reminded the Officer Cadets that:  “To be an effective leader is to accept who I am and loving that. It is only when you really love yourself, can you actually contemplate giving yourself to others.”

The Bishop then took an exhilarating trip on one of the Navy’s rib boats to witness the new entry Cadets taking part in their final leadership exercise on the River Dart.   He was also shown the state-of-art bridge simulator used primarily for navigation and Officer-of-the-Watch training.

Bishop Mark said: “I was delighted to be able to stay at Britannia Royal Naval College and to see and experience the many wonderful things that are taking place at the College.

“I was struck by the dedication and generosity of the cadets, and the staff who are accompanying them at this important time of training and formation. BRNC has a rich history and it was good to see that tradition of service of one’s country and those in need, is lived with such courage and self-less sacrifice.

“It was a great privilege to say mass in the Catholic Chapel and to give “Thought for the Day” at Divisions. I will certainly keep all those involved with the College very much in my prayers. I have taken with me some very fond memories of BRNC and all those I met.”

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