Wednesday, January 18, 2017

School bids emotional farewell to priest who lost post in parish shake-up

webGRJC20170110A-794_CPupils, parents and teachers paid an emotional farewell to a popular priest who has served the Catholic community for some 20 years.

Father James Earley was presented with a plaque at a special mass held at St Joseph's Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy in Cleethorpes.

In November last year it was announced Father Earley had lost his post in the parish following a reorganisation of Catholic churches in the area, which included the closure of St Pius X Church on Chelmsford Avenue.

Father Earley, who will be moving to All Saints Catholic Church in Hassop near Bakewell, Derbyshire, said he will miss the many friends he has made while serving the community for the past two decades.

"It's very emotional, it's been a very emotional week. I have spent 20 years here. It's been a wrench, that's how I'd describe it," he said.

"I am disappointed with the decision (to close St Pius X), knowing the pain it is going to cause. It will be a sad loss. I am losing my post and we are losing the church because of the reorganisation."

As reported, St John Fisher Hall in Scartho was also sacrificed in a move to bring three remaining Catholic churches under one new parish. Father John Martin also lost his post.

Falling congregation numbers and fewer people being ordained into the priesthood have prompted the review by the Nottingham Roman Catholic Diocese, which covers North East Lincolnshire.

Grimsby's only listed Catholic church, St Mary's On The Sea, was saved following the review. It was decided St Mary's Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy in Grimsby and St Joseph's Catholic Primary Voluntary Academy in Cleethorpes would also continue.

Father Earley, who regularly visited the school and conducted liturgies, added: "I enjoyed going into classrooms and explaining to kids what it was all about and telling them my life story.

"I love Grimsby and I will be back many times because I have built many friendships over the years but it won't be in a professional capacity"

Head teacher Sarah Pollard paid tribute to Father Earley at the mass and praised him for his hard work in the Catholic community.

"We wanted to hold a mass to say 'thank you' for all the work he has done in our parishes. We also presented a cheque to commemorate his years and as a celebration for all he has done at the school," she said.

"He has been central to the school. He helped to ensure Catholic life is central to our mission statement and he would chat to the children and teachers. He is a really lovely man and he talked me into this job 14 years ago.

"I have known him for a long time. He knows the history of the school and he has seen how we have grown."

Pupil Luke Purdue-Peralta, 11, said: "He is a very kind priest and he has been here a long time."

Lucie Mack, 10, added: "I have going to church all my life for mass on Sundays and he has always been priest there."

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