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Golden day for popular priest
9:46am Thursday 1st November 2012 in News
PARISHIONERS and clergy have been paying tribute to a priest on the 50th anniversary of his ordination.
Father John Allen, who is the priest at Our Lady of Grace RC Church in Fairfax Road, Prestwich, marked his golden jubilee at Sunday Mass and a reception party afterwards in the church hall.
This was followed on Monday by a Golden Jubilee Mass with a gathering of 101 priests at the church, together with parishioners, and the choirs of St Monica’s High and Our Lady of Grace (OLOG) Primary schools. Former OLOG pupil Peter Stevens, now organist at Westminster Cathedral, played the organ at the celebration service.
Fr Allen said: “I had no part in the organisation of these celebrations and I have to say I was rather taken aback by the scale of it. I am humbled by the praise that people have given me in the past few days.”
Before coming to Our Lady of Grace, Fr Allen was a curate at Sacred Heart Church in Gorton.
One of his highlights came when he was chairman of the organisational committee for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Heaton Park in 1982, witnessed by more than 250,000 people.
“I was fortunate enough to meet him at Nazareth House after he gave Mass and we spoke about the event and the organisation of it. It was definitely one of my highlights here,” said Fr Allen.
He placed particular emphasis on the feeling of community within Prestwich and within church life.
Fr Allen said: “One thing I realised very early on when I arrived here is that you are never on your own.
“I have the support of some wonderful people and it is a privilege to be among them. At the celebrations, we had everyone from priests to church cleaners, to choir members and it was great to see everyone there.”
Looking back, he noted that Mass is now commonly given in English rather than Latin, unlike 50 years ago, and that the Catholic Church had modernised its approach to other faiths and denominations.
Fr Allen added: “It may not make the headlines, but the church is open every day from 8am to 6pm for everyone to come in and say a prayer. It is a place of comfort for a great number of people and I am proud to be associated with it.”
l On Sunday, Fr Allen gave out Bene Merenti merit awards on behalf of the Pope to church organiser Bernard Hurst, choirmaster Vincent Allerton and church helpers Eileen Harrington, and Thomas and Agnes Allen.