LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Bishop Vincent Malone, who served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Liverpool from 1989 until his retirement in 2006, has died at Royal Liverpool Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 88.

Malone was born in Liverpool on September 11, 1931 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1955.

From 1960 to 1961 he served as Assistant Priest at St Anne’s, Overbury Street, Liverpool and was a part-time teacher at St Francis Xavier’s Preparatory School, and then served for 10 years on the staff of Cardinal Allen Grammar school for Boys.

In 1971, he was appointed the Catholic chaplain at the University of Liverpool and in 1980 he was the first cleric to be elected Chairman of Convocation for the university.

After his episcopal consecration in 1989, he served as Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Committee for Higher Education and as Episcopal Liaison for the National Board of Catholic Women.

After his retirement, he continued to serve as the vicar general and trustee of the Archdiocese until 2019.

“Bishop Vincent had retired from his role as auxiliary bishop when I arrived in Liverpool six years ago, but he was still a very active member of the archbishop’s council and a trustee of the archdiocese,” said Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool in a statement.

“No report or set of accounts was safe from Bishop Vin’s eye for detail. As a young priest he had trained as teacher of mathematics, and numbers and diagrams certainly contributed to his view of the world or at least of the Church, but it would be very wrong to portray him as a person who was unfeeling,” he continued.

“His mild and polite manner found its fulfillment in his ministry as a priest and bishop which was characterized by unfailing kindness and respect to all those he met and served. Bishop Vincent told me that he enjoyed being an auxiliary bishop because it kept him close to people. He made a massive contribution to the life of the local church and city as dean at the Metropolitan cathedral, chaplain to Liverpool University and chair of numerous committees including the early ecumenical bodies which laid the foundations for the harmony we enjoy between churches and people of faith in these days,” McMahon said.

“In life, Bishop Vincent Malone was peace with God and his creation, may he now be welcomed by his Lord into a place of peace and light,” the archbishop concluded.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said on Twitter he was “sad to hear the news,” calling Malone a “true gentleman a humble and dedicated man whose mission was to serve God, the Archdiocese and people of Liverpool.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the head of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, also took to Twitter to honor the late bishop.

“We pray that Bishop Vincent Malone is received by our Heavenly Father with loving mercy and that he can look down upon us with an affectionate smile as he sees us still struggle to do our best. His service, his struggle is over. May he rest in peace and rise in glory,” the tweet said.

Later, the cardinal issued a statement remembering the time he lived at the clerical residence at the Liverpool cathedral, where Malone was in charge.

“Above all I remember his endless patience to get right every aspect of the work of the Cathedral; his unfailing courtesy with every person he met, even those who were occasionally very difficult; his kindness to those in need who came to the door. He had a gentle rebuke for those who acted precipitously and a readiness himself to make amends. He offered warm hospitality without ever being ostentatious and a quiet witty conversation. He was a lovely man to be with,” Nichols said.

“He served the Archdiocese unfailingly and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, especially in our ministry in universities, in which he had considerable experience. We will miss him. We pray that he is received by our Heavenly Father with loving mercy and that he can look down upon us with an affectionate smile as he sees us still struggle to do our best. His service, his struggle is over. May he rest in peace and rise in glory,” he said.

Father Aidan Prescott, the chancellor of the Liverpool archdiocese, confirmed in a statement that Malone has able to receive his final sacraments on Monday evening.

“For many years Bishop Vincent commended to our prayers the souls of deceased priests and faithful in our archdiocese. May we now pray for him, bidding the choirs of angels to lead him into paradise,” Prescott said.

This story has been updated with the statements of McMahon and Nichols.

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome