THE Brentwood Diocese has named its new Bishop - a former scientist and teacher.

Father Alan Williams was appointed as one of the region’s most senior clergymen by Pope Francis and will succeed Bishop Thomas McMahon - who had been in post for more than 34 years.

Despite having announced his intention to retire three years ago, Bishop Thomas will formally retire in July, when Fr Williams will have his episcopal ordination at Brentwood Cathedral to become the seventh Bishop of Brentwood since 1917.

He will oversee the diocese which covers much of Essex, Thurrock and Southend.

Fr Williams, who found out just six days ago that he had been appointed, said: “I’m surprised, humbled, honoured and delighted.

"From what I’ve heard about Brentwood Diocese and everything about it, it excites me quite a lot. I’m very keen to begin.”

The Oldham-born bishop-elect has a background in teaching and working with schools. He holds degrees in theology, psychology and religious education and held the position of chaplain at Sheffield Hallam University.

At a press conference on Monday, he said he was a “jack of all trades”, having trained as a scientist originally, before moving into psychology and in later years teaching Christian spirituality.

Fr Williams said that he expected much of his work to involve schools. He said: “The catholic diocese of Brentwood has a lot of schools, I think about 90 plus and given my connection with schools in the past, it’s an area I feel at home with so I would be delighted to work in the area of education.

“My message for the diocese would be that I know I can count on their support and clearly i’m on a steep learning curve but I can presume their generosity and goodness.”