Fr Pat was parish priest in Thetford from 1985-91 and now been reappointed by Bishop Alan Hopes.
The welcome took place on Saturday October 29 and was the first big social event for the parish in many years. It was great to see people there of all ages enjoying themselves outside in the parish garden.
As part of the celebration, Fr Pat was presented with a cake in the shape of a cricket bat and ball, as Fr Pat is a great lover of the sport.
Paul Gilbert, chair of the parish council welcomed everyone to the event and thanked them for their support in making the event a success. He welcomed Fr Pat back to the parish to a huge applause. Paul said that it was a team effort from parishioners in St Mary’s to make this event a success.
Fr Pat gave a brief speech, saying that it was lovely to be back in Thetford and it was good to see so many familiar faces enjoying the good weather on the last weekend of October. When Fr Pat was first told there would be an BBQ event in October, he questioned if it would be warm and dry enough. Luckily enough, the rain held off and turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon.
Fr Pat said, “This is not about the past. I’m here for today, tomorrow and the future. We are all on a journey together in faith. This is remarkable and I feel very touched that you have all welcomed me back to the parish in this way. Thank you all so much.”
Activities included a tug of war between children and parents, a kids’ football match and a game of outdoor Jenga. Many of the parishioners who attended remarked how much they enjoyed it and that it brought people back together.
Pictured above are Fr Pat Cleary and Paul Gilbert.