Thank you very much indeed for the great privilege and blessing of my time here in Our Lady of the Valley parish these last two years. I am grateful to you all for the faith, hope and love that you have shared. Our three churches are alive with people who profess and practise the Catholic faith in active, engaged and inspiring ways.
Thank you especially for the memorable, uplifting celebration on Tuesday evening, when mass was concelebrated to mark my departure and that of Mgr John Chaloner. This was a wonderful occasion and we all appreciated the inspired music ministry and the involvement of the children in reading, singing and the remarkable “stick dance.”
Thank you for the cards, gifts and the extremely generous cheques. Coming to priesthood later in life, with a teaching career and savings behind me, I always donate such gifts to charity: thankfully, I am sending over £1,000.00 to Craig Lodge where the charity “Mary’s Meals” is based. I will tell them that this comes from the great goodness of the people of Our Lady of the Valley parish.
I am grateful for having begun my priestly ministry in a parish where lay people are so involved and where social action is a lived reality and not just a preached ideal. Our faith community is a beacon to society at large and we should be justly proud of the ministry to the marginalised, the work to support refugees, the campaigning against trafficking and slavery and so many other ways in which the lonely, disadvantaged and vulnerable are supported.
I have come to see what great local Catholic schools we have with truly excellent head teachers and outstandingly devoted staff who go the extra mile in pursuit not just of academic excellence but also of the nurturing of faith. Parishioners can be assured that their children and grandchildren are being given the best of starts in life.
My greatest gratitude is for the amazing spiritual bouquet that was presented to me. I have discovered more and more how dependent we priests are on the prayers of the faithful. Please know that I will also pray and offer the mass for you in the days ahead. Thank you and God bless you.