Farewell Mass thanks Holy Ghost Fathers for 70 years of spiritual care

An open air Mass of Thanksgiving has been held to say farewell to the congregation of the Holy Spirit (fondly known to us as the Holy Ghost Fathers), who have left St Joseph’s Parish after nearly 70 years.

Changing circumstances have meant that the group are moving to a house in Chester. Archbishop Peter Smith was the principal celebrant at the Mass of Thanksgiving, held at Holy Ghost Fathers’ house in Bickley. More than 40 priests and deacons took part in the Mass, which was attended by a congregation of over 300.

The weather was kind and there were several speeches after the Mass. Father Tom McHugh spoke of the great service the Holy Ghost Fathers had been to the Parish and local community and, with the help of Joan McConnell, presented them with a farewell gift from the Parish.

Maureen Mullally-Clarke, who has attended Masses at the Holy Ghost Fathers for over 60 years, spoke movingly from a parishioners perspective. Archbishop Peter then gave a short speech and assisted Father Peter Assenga in cutting the cake. This was followed by refreshments and lunch.

Fr. Peter Assenga, Community Superior, said: “The Spiritans (Holy Ghost Fathers) are extremely grateful to the parish and priests for your great kindness, generosity and prayers as we prepare to leave Bromley for our new community in Chester. Your kindness and help over the last 70 years have been such an encouragement for us in carrying out our mission to spread the Good News that Jesus brought us throughout the world. Several generations of parishioners, parish clergy and Spiritans have worked together in building the city of God in this corner of his vineyard. Thank you for the donation and the Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will treasure it as remembrance of our presence in the Parish.

“Keep praying for us, as such a move is a great challenge for our community. Because of the nature of our missionary vocation in the Church, we are used to moving from one place to another, but it becomes more difficult as we advance in years.

“We shall be praying for you all, asking the good Lord to reward you for your kindness and help over the last 70 years and once we have settled into our new home, we will be delighted if you drop in on us if you are passing by.”

Holy Ghost Fathers came to live in St Joseph’s Parish in 1947. They took to heart the imperative of the Gospel given to us by St. Paul: “Make hospitality your special care”.  They offered friendship, pastoral care, spiritual direction and advice, and often celebrated Mass and ministered the sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation.