Sunday 20th July marked a significant milestone for our much loved priest, Fr Paul Newman, who celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. Our parish family came together to celebrate this moment along with friends, family members and former parishioners of Fr Paul. His career has taken him to many communities in the Diocese including St Joseph’s Derby; Our Lady and St Joseph’s Matlock; Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Belper; Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Bulwell; the Diocesan Youth Centre at The Briars; and currently to the people of Chaddesden and Oakwood.
The affection and respect that Fr Paul evokes was witnessed by the huge number of people who attended the 10am Mass, necessitating the use of the day Chapel for the overspill. It was a beautiful sung Mass, with the choir leading us in favourite hymns such as ‘Shine Jesus Shine.’
Fr Mervyn Tower read the Gospel and preached the homily. He talked about the start of his friendship with Fr Paul who he first met when teaching at Oscott college where Fr Paul was a seminarian and how they have stayed friends ever since. He spoke about how Fr Paul has lived up to the promises he made at his ordination – preaching the Gospel, teaching the faith, praying for the people entrusted to his care, celebrating the Sacraments and encouraging all to truly know Christ. We also heard about his love of cars, watches, holidays and musicals! Fr Mervyn wove in the Gospel reading – the parable of the wheat and tares (weeds) – reminding us that the wheat and tares are mixed, they grow together. They are within the world and the church. He reflected on the presence of the wheat and tares within all of us, representing our own individual struggle as Christians; making the necessity for good leaders such as Fr Paul imperative.
Touchingly, at the conclusion of the Mass, Fr Paul publicly thanked his Dad for all the support he has shown him over the years, and presented him with a beautiful rose bush as a sign of his love and appreciation for all he has done. He also thanked Susanna Aitchinson for his new stunningly embroidered vestments, and all the good wishes he has received, including those in his tribute book from the parishes of St Alban’s and Oakwood.
After the Mass, we were treated to a gorgeous spread of strawberries, fruit baskets, scones, home-made cakes, Prosecco wine and the most impressively sculpted Roman Missal and Lectionary cake that many of us had to have a second look at before we were convinced it really was edible! The Chairman of the Parish Council, Geoff Rowlands, led the thanks to Fr Paul, presenting him with a beautiful gold and wooden paten, along with a generous cheque (to enhance his watch/car collections!). We were blessed with wonderful weather and many stayed to enjoy a picnic lunch together.
Of course such an auspicious occasion could not go by without a word from His Holiness Pope Francis, who had sent an official Apostolic blessing for Fr Paul, invoking abundant divine graces. However, the final word goes to our own parish poet laureate, Ronnie Smith, who penned this is honour of the day:
“Father Paul has been a priest now for twenty five long years,
Along the way there would have been lots of laughter and I’m sure lots of tears;
This fine priest came to us at St Alban’s Parish some three years ago;
He has changed our lives and we have seen our parish grow;
Everybody loves you Father Paul and regard you as their friend;
Rest assured that you will always be in our prayers on that you can depend.
Pay-Pal is a system that lots of folks use to pay online today;
And we know that Father Paul likes to use e-bay;
Useful gadgets and games he has bought with which he likes to play;
Like a little boy he would play; if he could with his toys all day.
New year has arrived and soon off to the sunshine he will go;
Every year he goes away he leaves his parishioners shivering in the snow;
We know he likes his motor cars and that he has had a few
Many different makes and types all with fancy names;
All of them strangely have been named after dames
New watches are a passion; of these he has a lot, and no two are the same.
Father Paul you lead us in our religious life each and every day;
You support us when we are ill and teach us how to pray;
When we are bereaved you know just what to say and how to sympathise;
You show your happiness and joy when little babies you baptise;
Many couples you will have married and watched their families grow;
God bless you Father Paul, you are loved more than you will ever know.”