An important announcement from
My Dear Parishioners,
It is with a heavy heart that I wish to inform you of my decision to retire as Parish Priest of St. Michael’s on Saturday, 1st August 2020, my 90th birthday.
St. Michael’s has been my home for almost 50 years and throughout that time I have been fortunate to experience the love, support, care and friendship of so very many people. I cannot even begin to put into words what that has meant to me over the years or how much I have appreciated each and every one of you. I thank God every day that Bishop James Cunningham appointed me to St. Michael’s in December 1971 for my first posting as a Parish Priest which I took up in January 1972.
My decision to retire has not been taken lightly. Like all of you, the ongoing pandemic has afforded me a lot of time, indeed more than I would have liked, to think about my life in terms of my journey to this point, my current situation and, perhaps more importantly, my future. One of the key factors underpinning the decision I have taken is the enormous period of change facing the Catholic Church as it emerges from the pandemic. This includes the re-opening of churches, initially for the purpose of private prayer and, ultimately, for the celebration of Holy Mass and other services. Declaring my intention allows the Partnership to make informed plans for the future.
Whilst I tendered my letter of resignation to the Bishop last weekend, there remains considerable detail to work through regarding the impact of my resignation within the Partnership. However, I am most grateful that Bishop Robert has agreed that, for the time being, I can remain in the Presbytery. That is a huge comfort to me as I will continue to be surrounded by my many friends.
Many thanks again for the wonderful years here at St. Michael’s. I will pray for you all as you continue your many and varied journeys through this wonderful life and I hope you will pray for me as I embark on this new chapter of mine.
Our Partnership Dean
Fr Mark Millward writes
On the 31st of July we celebrate the feast day of St Ignatius of Loyola whose brothers in the Society of Jesus use the motto “Ad majórem Dei glóriam” which means "For the greater glory of God."
On the 1st August we celebrate Fr. Bill’s 90th birthday, his priesthood has certainly been lived for the greater glory of God. We celebrate his birthday and his ministry with great gratitude; on your birthday Fr. Bill thank you!
This milestone birthday is an important moment for Fr. Bill and also for the parishioners of St Michael’s Houghton-Le-Spring as he takes the opportunity to announce his retirement as your parish priest.
He has been your priest for many of you for most of your life, and for others all of your life, sharing life’s joys and successes, sorrows and failures alongside you; supporting you with Word & Sacrament and his outstanding pastoral care.
As we celebrate with Fr Bill on his birthday, we also acknowledge this huge change for him and for you the parishioners. Fr Chris Jackson, Fr Jim O’Keefe, Fr Martin Wheaton and I alongside Deacon Richard McLaughlin are here to help and support you all in this initial period of his retirement.