Bishop Robert Charles McBride BA (Hons), OSP - Bishop of Fotheringhay
Bishop Robert was born in 1953 in Addlestone, Surrey where he still has family ties. Raised as an Anglican, he sung in his village choir until leaving school. He continued to worship as an Anglican and a Chorister, singing Tenor, when he moved to Northamptonshire in 1980.
His working career was originally as a Registered Nurse and latterly as both Project Manager and then Senior Manager within the NHS before his early retirement about 12 years ago. Bishop Robert has a BA (Hons) in Combined Arts (Sociology, History & Law) from the University of Leicester (1990) as well as further educational qualifications in Nursing (Diploma); Further Adult Educational Teaching Certificate; and Certificate in Management Studies.
Like many, during the 1990s, Bishop Robert was to witness the turmoil within the Church of England following the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood Measure in 1993. Having been torn between his love of the Anglican Church and his sincere objection to The Measure at that time, he reluctantly joined the Traditional Church of England (TCE) under the Late Bishop Leslie John Whiting. Bishop Robert, as a lay member, served in his thriving local TCE Parish in Kettering.
He studied for two years at the local, Roman Catholic, Convent of Our Lady in Kettering attaining a Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies in 1996. This award was presented by Bishop Leo, RC Bishop of Northampton. Further training was given within the Traditional Anglican Communion, before being Ordained Deacon and Priest at the hands of the then Bishop Robert Mercer CR in 1997.
There was to be a further period of instability within the TAC and TCE before the then Fr Robert resigned. Fr Robert, along with several other former TAC clergy, formed the English Catholic Church (ECC) in March 2000 also signing a document of Inter-communion with the Old Catholic Church in the United States (OCCUS) in July 2000 who generously offered Episcopal Oversight of the fledgeling jurisdiction. The OCCUS, was led by Archbishop Robert Matthew Gubala and Bishop Andre J Queen. Fr Robert was elected by the ECC Chapter of Advice to be the ECC's first Bishop to serve in the UK. He was duly Consecrated in July 2000 in Chicago by Archbishop Robert M Gubala and Bishop Andre J Queen. In 2006 this Inter-Communion arrangement was reaffirmed when OCCUS became The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America.
The ECC was dissolved as an active church, and by mutual agreement with its membership, in 2008 when The Ecumenical Society of Saint Augustine of Canterbury (TESSAC) was established in November 2008. It was felt that the future for many lay, not in creating 'churches', but in ecumenical Societies and Confraternities. Bishop Martyn Douglas was elected as Assistant Bishop and was duly Consecrated in October 2009.
Due to ill health Bishop Robert was unable to continue with the demands and rigours of running TESSAC and therefore resigned from the day to day running of TESSAC in 2010 and has remained in retirement for nine years until December 2019. TESSAC having been left in the very capable hands of Bishop Martyn who continued the work of making TESSAC both a respected and stable home for clergy and laity alike.
In December, Bishop Robert made the decision to ask for Incardination back into the TESSAC fold and this was graciously accepted by Bishop Martyn. Bishop Robert still has a neurological condition affecting his spinal cord and mobility but will serve as Bishop of Fotheringhay attending Bishops' Conferences, special services and retreats when able. Bishop Robert will still retain his private Oratory, dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham, at his home in Kettering.
Liturgically Bishop Robert still adheres to the Book of Common Prayer and has a special love of Morning and Evening Prayer as well as the 1928 BCP Order of Communion. That said, he is also happy to use, and participate in, the modern Roman Rite and currently uses both Rites in his Oratory.
It is anticipated that a service of re-dedication will take place at the Oratory in due course.