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The Feast of St Francis de Sales on January 24th saw Arundel Cathedral in all its glory resounding to the joyous sound of its admirable choir for Malcolm’s ordination by Bishop Kieran. He welcomed the many priests who had come to bear witness, seminarians from Wonersh, parishioners from St Richard’s in Chichester, the Mayor and Mayoress of Arundel, friends and local parishioners.
Bishop Kieran went on to explore the question of how we hear the voice of God. He suggested that it is through continuing ‘dialogue’ involving a great many people over the years that God’s voice is heard and more recently, for Malcolm, in the parishes and at Wonersh.
He hoped that Malcolm had the certainty that God had chosen him and that the dialogue would continue through prayer
The ceremony included Deacon Malcolm’s prostration, before the 'laying on of hands' by Bishop Kieran to confer the apostolic succession of the priesthood on – Father Malcolm.
Fellow priests greeted their new colleague; they included Father Peter Newsam, also a former Anglican minister.
Parishioners from Chichester, with the Witterings and Bosham, where Malcolm spent a few months at the end of last year, presented him with the Chasuble for his ordination, vesting here for the first time with Fr Kieron OBrien. Fr. Malcolm said afterwards that it had been, for him, a very happy occasion and he appreciated the love and warmth of everyone present.
As Malcolm had been an Anglican priest since 1970 he now sees his priesthood as being a continuation of his ministry. Malcolm originally trained at Chichester Theological College, and after early parish work became an RAF chaplain – with an itinerant role: ideal experience for what now lies ahead! After service with RAF, Malcolm returned as parish priest, serving in five parishes before returning to Chichester Diocese in a general role near his alma mater.
Malcolm said that it was about four years ago that he felt like ‘coming home’ and becoming a Catholic. Bishop Kieran, on learning of his background, invited Malcolm to become a Roman Catholic priest. In September 2006, Malcolm commenced a course at Wonersh Seminary and in June 2007 was ordained as a Deacon. From September 2007 until Christmas, Malcolm was Deacon at St Richard’s in Chichester with the Witterings and Bosham, a time he thoroughly enjoyed.
Bishop Kieran has decided that Fr. Malcolm should not have a parochial responsibility but be available to work, as needed, in churches throughout our Deanery, yet based in the Cathedral itself. A travelling role again, for which Fr Malcolm is well prepared!
Two days later, on January 26th, Father Malcolm concelebrated his first Mass with Parish Priest Father Kieron, Assistant Priest Father Royston and Father Tony.
Afterwards, there was the warmth of a reception in the Parish Rooms. A chat with Madonna, our dedicated sacristan and holder of Benemerenti, and for our Diocese the sense of another step forward in drawing on the wisdom and experience of others “coming home” from other ministries.
(With thanks for biographical notes from Colin Swanton and photos at Arundel for A&B News by Charles Snowdon. Photos at St Richards by Michael Oliver)