St Mary’s Parish Ipswich hosted Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Canon Michael on Friday July 13, when Ipswich deanery clergy joined a full church of parishioners, family and friends for a Concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving for his 60 years of priesthood.
The chief concelebrant and Dean, Fr John Barnes, paid a warm and amusing tribute to Canon Michael. Over the years, he has held many key posts of responsibility but Canon Michael’s pastoral work was at the heart of his priesthood. His dedication to his people and the development of their faith through example was his life’s work.
In 1995 he officially retired to Kesgrave in the Parish of St Mary’s Ipswich. In reality he didn’t really retire. He became so generous with his time that his ministry developed, towards parishioners and also seafarers in nearby Felixstowe docks. Now he has become became part and parcel of their lives and all have taken him into their hearts.
Following the Mass of Thanksgiving, a huge crowd joined Fr Michael (as he is now affectionately known) in the parish hall for a very happy party and presentation. Fr Michael used his moving address of thanks to stress the importance of faith and not just the priest’s own faith. He said that sometimes in the life of a priest, it is the deep faith of the people that carries a priest through.
Pictured at St Mary’s Ipswich are, back row from left, Christopher Smith, Fr Russell Frost, Fr Edmund Eggleston, Fr Charlie Gordon, Fr Michael Rear. Front row, from left, Fr Adrian Gates, Deacon Clive Brooks, Canon Michael Hazell, Fr John Barnes, Deacon Christopher Brighten and Canon Matthew George. Not in the photo, but present at the Mass: Fr Francis Leeder