The Ely Parish came together in thanksgiving and celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Fr Tony’s ordination. Fr Philip Shryane, Fr John Ablewhite, Fr Simon Blakesley, Fr John Minh, Fr John Warrington, Fr David Bagstaff, Fr Walter from Zimbabwe and Deacon John Bedford concelebrated Mass with him.
The church was full to capacity with parishioners joining Fr Tony’s family and friends to wish him well before enjoying a buffet lunch in the parish rooms.
With his characteristic quiet humility and dry sense of humour, Fr Tony accepted bottles of fine wine, a cheque and a Papal Blessing from well-wishers and parishioners.
As his younger brother, Fr Philip, said at the end of Mass: “Well done – here’s to the next 50 years!”
Tony was born in 1942 in Worcestershire, the younger of identical twins. The family moved to Coventry, then Hinckley and then Peterborough, living close to St Peter and All Souls Church.
The parish priest, recognising the twins’ devotion and faithfulness as altar boys, recommended that John and Anthony try their vocation at Ushaw College, County Durham. They continued at Ushaw for Senior Seminary and Fr Tony’s training took 13 years in all. In the middle of their seminary training, John had a serious bicycle accident and sustained injuries which meant he was no longer able to continue his studies and he died in 2000.
Fr Tony was ordained on March 2, 1969, at St Peter and All Souls. His first placement as an assistant priest was at the cathedral in Northampton. He was then appointed to St John the Baptist in Norwich, where he worked as an assistant for six years. In 1977, he was appointed as parish priest of St Mary’s Thetford. After eight years he went to Our Lady of the Annunciation, King’s Lynn. In October 1998, Fr Tony went to St Etheldreda’s in Ely where he has faithfully served the community ever since.
Fr Tony was Vocations Director for the diocese from 1977 to 1985. In addition he has provided Mass for prisoners and staff in HMP Whitemoor. He currently assists in chaplaincy work at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge.
Since 2008, Fr Tony has led parishioners on biennial visits to the St Etheldreda’s twinned parish near Siem Reap in Cambodia, a floating church in Prek Toal on Tonle Sap Lake, and he has encouraged and enabled much financial and prayer support for people in that country. Father often proudly wears a stole showing the broken cross of Cambodia.
Pictured above is Fr Tony Shryane, centre, with fellow priests at the celebratory Mass in Ely.