There was a celebration of more than 1,000 years of service to the people of Liverpool Archdiocese when our jubilarian priests gathered last month for a special Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral.
In total, 21 priests across the Archdiocese have jubilee celebrations in 2015 – from 25 years right up to 70 – and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon gave thanks for their many years of ministry in the Jubilarians Mass on Friday 12 June.
Bishop Vincent Malone is among the priests marking a special anniversary this year – in his case, his diamond jubilee of 60 years. There are even two priests for whom 2015 brings a platinum jubilee: Father Kevin Ashton and Canon Richard Firth were ordained in 1945. Together, the 21 jubilarians have served for a combined 1,010 years.
The Mass took place on the Feast of the Sacred Heart and Archbishop McMahon, citing Pope Francis's focus on reconciliation, spoke in his homily of the priest's power to reflect God's mercy through forgiveness. "In answering the call of God, these jubilarians have – through formation and prayer, service, devotion and perseverance – celebrated with their lives that power of God," he said. "For priests the best way in which the loving of God is shown is in penance."
Reflecting on the priest's role, he added: "Trying to deepen our understanding of God and of what it means to be human is very much the role of the priest – he is there to help people give meaning to their lives.
"In honouring our priests today we thank them for the way they have shared with us their hearts," he continued. "They have shared with us their vision of the truth, they have worshipped for us in spirit and in truth, and they have worshipped with us as we have offered our daily sacrifices with them. We thank them for the way in which they have revealed God's mercy to those whom they have served. But above all, we thank them for being the loving heart of Jesus throughout many years of dedicated ministry."
The full list of the Archdiocese's jubilarian priests is: Father Kevin Ashton, Canon Richard Firth (both platinum); Father Gerald Hurst, Monsignor Jack Kennedy, Father Leo Lynch, Bishop Vincent Malone, Father Kevin Snape (all diamond); Father James Clarkson, Father Thomas Cullinan, Father Michael de Felice, Father Austin Griffin, Father Bernard Jackson, Father Sean O'Connor, Father Anthony Reynolds (all golden); Father David Melly, Father William Murphy, Father Nicholas Wilde (all ruby); Father David Gamble, Father Ian McParland, Father Andrew Rowlands, Father Michael Thompson (all silver).