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Papal surprise for Thetford teenager Nathan

Teenager Nathan Alexander Connor received an unexpected Papal Blessing when he was Baptised, Confirmed and received into Full Communion with the Church at St Mary’s, Thetford, recently.

Nathan, aged 17, has been attending weekly Sunday Mass for the past year, but due to the pandemic, his reception into the church was delayed until the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15).

Nathan received the sacraments in front of his mother, grandfathers and uncle, as well as a virtual congregation in Malta because of the current travel restrictions in place and a large physical congregation present in St Mary’s.

Nathan’s interest in joining the Church was raised when he studied European History 1500 – 1660 for his A Level exam.

During the homily, Fr Peter Leeming, parish priest of Thetford paid tribute to Nathan’s steadfast approach of faith over the year and mentioned that when he was first approached by Nathan enquiring about the Catholic faith, Nathan has been very attentive and attended weekly Sunday Mass without fail. Fr Peter also paid tribute to Karen, his mother for her support to Nathan over the last year.

After the sacraments were conferred, Fr Peter invited Paul Gilbert, chair of the Parish Pastoral Council up to present a surprise to Nathan.

Paul said that someone wished to be present, but because of various things, it was not possible but has sent a blessing in the form of a parchment. Paul then read out the citation which came from  non-other than Pope Francis himself and he presented it to Nathan.

Afterwards, both the physical and virtual congregations applauded. Nathan was completely speechless and was astonished that he should receive such as blessing from The Pope himself.

This was a great occasion for a young man and as he was welcomed into the parish by Fr Peter and the parish community. The Mass is available to watch via the St Mary’s Catholic Church Thetford YouTube channel.

Pictured, left to right is Parish Priest Mgr Peter Canon Leeming, Nathan’s mum Karen, Nathan (holding the Blessing received from His Holiness Pope Francis) and his grandfathers Stephen Saggers and Joseph McKay.