Some new faces at St Wilfrid's and St Joseph's
At the end of September or in early October we will be welcoming two more priests to York to help here at St Wilfrid’s and at St Joseph’s.
Fr David Standen is a priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. He is presently Parish Priest of St Patrick’s in Stafford. Fr David is no stranger to York. His stepmother lives in Wetherby and he has been a regular visitor over the years.
Fr Mark Drew is a priest of the Diocese of Sens-Auxerre in France, though he is originally from Liverpool. He is presently working as an assistant priest in St Helen’s. Fr Mark has just finished a doctorate in Ecumenical and Patristic Theology at the Institut Catholique in Paris.
As Bishop Terence wrote in his Pastoral Letter to St Wilfrid's and St Joseph's this weekend, St Joseph’s and St Wilfrid’s will soon begin the process of joining together as one parish though it is envisaged that each church will keep its own community identity.
Fr David will live at St Joseph’s as Priest-in-Charge so that the church will continue to have a resident priest. Fr Mark will have his own flat in York. Fr David, Fr Mark, Fr Richard and Fr Nicholas will all minister in both St Wilfrid’s and St Joseph’s. This arrangement will continue (God willing!) for the next three years.
This will allow time for a number of things to happen.
There will be time for the parishioners of St Wilfrid’s and St Joseph’s to get used to having a number of different priests ministering to them and for everyone to get to know each other before the two parishes are united as one. It will give us all time to see what can be done better together and what things are best left to the individual churches. It will give the fledgling Oratorian community in York a chance to grow. The new priests will also be available for supplies and help with other chaplaincy roles in and around York.
The Fathers of the Oxford Oratory had hoped to be able to spare two priests for York from the beginning. We did not foresee that Fr Robert would be asked by Pope Francis to become the Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. While this is an honour and a blessing it brings with it some problems of personnel. Oxford can spare two but not three priests.
From September Fr Nicholas will start having to divide his time between Oxford and York. Other priests from Oxford will continue to visit York regularly. This has been happening since last November and now they will help out at St Joseph’s as well.
Our pastoral assistant, Adam Fairbairn, is presently in Oxford as a postulant for the Oratory. If all goes well he will return to York at the end of this month. Br Adam will continue to do practical and pastoral work here for at least a year as part of his preparation to become a priest.
Communities take time to grow and it is important to take careful and prudent decisions at every stage. Overall the news is good for the parishes of St Joseph’s and St Wilfrid’s. They will now have three and a half priests and a brother between them rather than one priest each.
Please keep Adam in your prayers as he completes his postulancy; and continue to pray for the Church in York and for more vocations, both for the Diocese of Middlesbrough and for the Oratory.