The celebration of 50 years of ministry began with a Festal Mass in the church, followed by a party in the hall.
Downside Abbey in Somerset supplies priests for St Edmunds and St Benets in Beccles and its Prior General Dom Leo was prevented from attending by the bad weather. His tribute to Fr Charles was read out during Mass by Fr Martin from St Benet’s. To add to the celebrations, the choir was accompanied by a solo trumpet played by Lucy Cranfield during the closing hymn, Now Thank We All Our God.
Afterwards in the church hall, refreshments and a light buffet supper, organised by Sonia Montagu, Carole Hunt and Chris Lindsay was provided.
Comments from parishioners, on an interactive smartboard, describing what Fr Charles means to them were revealing and demonstrated huge admiration for our beloved parish priest for the past 12 years, his humour and his hobbies!
A special entirely hand-stitched banner, designed by arts student Amelia Heath, also decorated the hall.
Chair of the PPC, Helen Kirby, paid tribute to Fr Charles saying: “You have drawn us together in worship, helped us deepen our faith, visited us in our homes, baptised our children and, as they grow in faith, ministered the Sacraments of FHC and, on occasions, Confirmation, blessed our marriages, comforted us in our sickness, supported us in bereavement, shown compassion, and encouraged us to take the initiative and run with projects – even if you thought they were a bit crazy!. Ultimately, you have helped our whole parish community realise God’s presence among us. And that must be the ultimate mark of a good parish.”
Parish Treasurer, Carole Hunt, presented Fr Charles with his gift from the parish – an electric bike. Brian Lewis, Chair of St Benet’s PPC, then presented a gift to Fr Charles on behalf of St Benet’s parish.
Following the presentation of gifts and expressions of thanks, Fr Charles cut the rather large celebration cake, prepared by ‘Queen of Cakes’, Aida Shaw.
Aida’s son, Benjamin, later entertained us with a performance of ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables, followed by a rather apposite reading by Andy Parris on the qualities of a good shepherd, taken from the book of Ezekiel.
The evening was drawn to a close with everyone joining in a rousing rendition of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, accompanied by Fr Martin on piano.
Pictured above is Fr Charles with the hand-stitched banner made by Amelia Heath.