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Fr Martin’s Farewell message

After fourteen years, this is my final Sunday in the parish. It is fitting that the sacred action that began my time here, ends it: the celebration of Mass, the source and summit of all that we are as individuals and a community. It is here that the mystery of the living God becomes real and truly present to us: Jesus Christ, his grace and eternal life.

After fourteen years, this is my final Sunday in the parish. It is fitting that the sacred action that began my time here, ends it: the celebration of Mass, the source and summit of all that we are as individuals and a community. It is here that the mystery of the living God becomes real and truly present to us: Jesus Christ, his grace and eternal life.

This also serves as a reminder that this is not the conclusion of our pilgrim journey together. Think of it as a spiritual “pit stop” for a change of priests that also provides an opportunity to give thanks to God for bringing us this far before we gather ourselves, rise and press forward with the promise of future glory lying ahead of us.

I have been so blessed to be your priest and companion along this stretch of the pilgrim way. Accompanied by Christ, we have shouldered each other’s burdens, cupped each other’s tears, delighted in each other’s gifts, witnessed miracles and learned to praise. We have found that God’s grace is mightier than our weakness. These are not small things. They have certainly left a deep impression on me.

I vividly recall all those we have lifted in the incense of prayer to the Lord, especially our deceased loved ones, those fellow travellers marked with the sign of faith who have strode on ahead of us to the Father’s house and where, we pray, they now wait for us.

We do not choose who our parish companions will be or what the journey will look like, both are gifts and evidence of God’s plan for each one of us. You have certainly proved that for me. The witness of your lives has sustained me in ways that you can never imagine; urging me on to the true future that awaits all of us, the eternal future: God.

It is also true that I have keenly felt the loss of fellow travellers who decided to leave or drift away from the way of the Lord for the highways of the secular world. While their absence is a cause of sorrow for me, they remain my brothers and sisters and appear often in my thoughts and prayers.

“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake…” (2 Cor 4:5). These words of St Paul strike me with particular force. I am aware that there have been times when I have not preached the love of Christ crucified by my words and actions. For this failure, I ask forgiveness of Almighty God. I humbly ask pardon of you.

Thank you for your patience with me; for putting up with me. Thank you for your prayers and practical support; your warmth and good humour; your concern for the weakest and the hurting; the witness of your faithfulness and the countless acts of kindness, friendship and generosity that you have personally shown me.

I hope to see some of you again at the 6.30 p.m. Mass in the Cathedral on Sunday 17th September. For those of you who cannot be there, my final message is the one that you have all heard repeatedly from me during these past fourteen years: remember, that you are not a mere mortal, you are an immortal; you are a child of God; you are made for glory.

Pray for me, as I will for you as we continue the journey and make our way home.

May God richly bless and protect you, your families and friends

Fr Martin

August 2023

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