Archbishop John Wilson was born on 4 July 1968 in Sheffield. He studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and religious studies at the University of Leeds and began formation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Leeds at the Venerable English College, Rome in 1989. During his seminary training he completed a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a Licence in Moral Theology at the Accademia Alfonsiana. He was ordained a deacon on 13 July 1994 by Bishop Cyril Restieaux
He was ordained to the priesthood on 29 July 1995 by Bishop David Konstant. He was appointed Assistant Priest at St Joseph’s, Pontefract in 1995, as well as hospital, hospice and school chaplain. He was appointed Assistant Priest at St Joseph’s, Bradford in 1998, and also served as a school chaplain.
In 1999, he was appointed Lecturer in moral theology at St Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw College, Durham. He also completed a PhD at Durham University and latterly served as Vice Rector. In 2005, he was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation in the Diocese of Leeds, a role he held until 2012. From 2008 to 2014 he was also sessional chaplain at HMP Leeds. In 2011 he was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI. During the vacancy of the see, he was elected Administrator of the Diocese of Leeds by the College of Consultors from September 2012 to November 2014. From 2015 to 2016 he served as Parish Priest of St Martin de Porres, Wakefield.
On 24 November 2015 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Lindisfarne by Pope Francis. He was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 25 January 2016. He had pastoral care of the deaneries in the western area of the diocese. He was also Chair of the Education Commission and had oversight of ecumenical work and inter-religious dialogue at diocesan level. He was also responsible for Liturgy, Art and Architecture, as well as the Historic Churches Commission.
On 10 June 2019 he was appointed Archbishop of Southwark by Pope Francis on the retirement of Archbishop Peter Smith. His installation took place in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on 25 July 2019, the Feast of St James the Apostle.