Parishioners at English Martyrs Church in Goring have celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ordination of their parish priest, Father Liam O’Connor.
Father Liam was ordained at St John’s College, Waterford, Eire, on June 12, 1966. Although expecting to be appointed to parishes in the Southwark Diocese, Father Liam quickly found himself attached to the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, which had been formed the year before, in 1965.
He was appointed to the parish of St Barnabas, East Molesey, in Surrey, where he served until 1970.
Over the following 36 years, Father Liam found himself for various periods at five different parishes, until, in 2006, he was sent to English Martyrs.
Christopher Williams, parish chairman, said: “During his ten years here, Father Liam has become a well-loved priest, dedicated to the spiritual wellbeing of the parish family of God. In this, Father Liam has lived out his promise of 50 years ago to commit himself as an instrument of Jesus Christ, to serve through sharing in the sacred ministry of Christ himself.”
To mark the golden milestone, there was a special Mass on Sunday, co-celebrated by Father Liam, Bishop Richard Moth and other priests of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
The church was packed full as the parishioners were joined by Father Liam’s family and friends from the parishes where he had previously served, as well as clergy from other churches in Goring.
After the Mass, a presentation was made to Father Liam to mark the occasion. This included a substantial cheque, a specially prepared anniversary candle and a Book of Memories, into which parishioners and friends had recorded their tributes and congratulations.
Celebrations continued with a buffet reception for all, supported by performers Shenanigan, who provided music and song.
The reception took place in the Grade II listed barn, which had served as the first church until 1970, when the present church was brought into use.
The church is well known as the home of the reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted more than 20 years ago by Gary Bevans, who, as Deacon Gary, was present at the Mass and celebrations afterwards.
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