The pressures that hospital chaplains face have increased immeasurably over the past couple of decades and so the diocese has accepted that it is unreasonable to expect one chaplain to carry the burden of a large modern hospital 24 hours a day over 6 days a week. So chaplaincy services to Blackburn hospital are to be supplied by a team of two priests who, while also serving the parishes of Holy Family Blackburn and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Longshaw, will separately work fulltime (24 hour cover) in the hospital for 3 days each week. The remaining 24hours will be covered by a rota priests in nearby parishes. Fr Ged Barry, the parish priest of Holy Family and Our Lady’s will be the lead chaplain and his assistant both in the hospital and parish will be Fr Frankie. So Fr Frank is on transfer and will celebrate all Masses next weekend 18 & 19th April before taking up his new post the following week.
That same weekend I will celebrate Mass in St Hubert’s, Dunsop Bridge to begin the process of growing the two parishes together. Mgr John Chaloner will continue to live in the Dunsop Presbytery and though retired will celebrate one Mass on Sunday mornings.
As you know Fr Frankie was appointed here for three years with a view to him then completing his ‘apprenticeship’ with a two year appointment in a city parish. That three year term has proved to be a little less than two but during this comparatively short time he has used his many talents to the benefit of both the parish and our primary and secondary schools. Christmas homilies will never be the same again! By happy coincidence the next Forum is scheduled for a week on Wednesday, 22nd April, at which we shall discuss how we may show our appreciation and arrange a suitable farewell for him.
Fr Joe Gee is to replace Fr Frankie. Fr Gee is three years ordained and prior to that he spent many years teaching physics and science; his life giving the lie to the claim that science and religion are incompatible! He is a Manchester man whose family lived in Mount Carmel parish Blackley where I was first appointed after ordination in 1969. So, you might say we both go back a long way – though he was only a babe in arms at the time! He will take up his appointment at the beginning of May.