Wednesday, 14 July 2010


unworthy as I am you have chosen me
to share in the eternal priesthood of Christ
and the ministry of your Church.
May I be an ardent but gentle servant
of your gospel and your sacraments.
This prayer is given in the Roman Missal for the anniversary of ordination of a priest. I feel it sums up all that a priest is called to be: an ardent but gentle servant of the Gospel and the Sacraments. There is not a priest alive who does not admit his own unworthiness of the great office that he holds. In the life of a priest there are many graced filled moments when you realise that it is not your work but the Lord's work you are doing. Or as i often say ''When it goes well, that's God's doing and when it goes wrong, that's my doing.
I share with you a letter i received from a family for whom I had celebrated a funeral. When you receive letters like this you feel like saying with St Peter ''Depart from me O Lord for I am a sinful man'' and yet it makes you realise that it is the Lord who is doing this work throught us. 'May God who has bgun this work in you bring it to fulfilement in the day of Christ Jesus'

I still have happy memories of when I was your tour guide on the Union of Catholic Mothers trip to Rome and Assisi four years ago. Are you still wearing the panama they bought for you for painting ? I shall be in Lourdes with Liverpool in July and look forward to seeing you again.
That is not my reason for writing, however.

Our brother Peter died on 18th June. Because he was profoundly deaf he never went to his local church but went to Mass with the deaf clubs in Manchester, Sheffield (where he worked) or Sacred Heart Blackpool (where he lived for 20 years).

When he died suddenly I was in Surrey and could not get back in time. I asked the hospital to inform the Priest. The normal chaplain was not on duty that night and so a certain Father Francis was called from Saint Marie's, Bury.

We had always worried that Peter, because of his deafness, might die alone and frightened. It was not to be. Not only was Father Francis gentle and caring, he could sign also. And so Peter knew what was going on and his nieces assure me that he died very peacefully, in the full knowledge of what was happening, shortly after Fr Francis left.
But still the Holy Spirit was moving. It turned out that Peter actually lived in the parish of Saint Marie and Father Francis kindly agreed that it was the appropriate Church for his funeral. He could not have been kinder. Despite his busy schedule he took time to meet us twice to ensure that the family's wishes were met. He guided us gently through the items we needed to consider.
Our family do not normally cry at funerals because we are lucky. We truly believe that our beloved has gone to a better place. But, when Father Francis, who had only met Peter for the first time on his deathbed, took the trouble to "sign" part of the Mass, the hymns and the committal to our brother, well!!!

There are no words to express Peter's family's deep debt of gratitude to Father Francis.
My Lord, Saint Marie's, Salford and yourself are blessed to have such an outstanding shepherd.
Yours Sincerely...

No comments: