Historic day as five men are ordained as Catholic priests
An event unprecedented in the 43-year history of the Diocese of East Anglia took place on Saturday July 6 in St John’s Cathedral, Norwich, when five men were ordained as priests on a single day. Keith Morris reports.
The Mass of Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood took place in front of a packed congregation of over 1,400 people, including around 120 clergy from across the Diocese and beyond, with every seat taken and some standing as well. Never have five men been ordained as priests in a single day in the history of the diocese.
Alfonso-Jude Belnas, Michael Brookes, Simon Davies, Alan Hodgson and Paul Spellman were ordained following studies of up to six years in length at seminaries in Birmingham (Oscott), Surrey (Wonersh) and Rome (Beda College), which were each represented by senior clergy at the Mass.
In his homily, the Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, said: “May the power of this Sacrament of Ordination lift us up today into the realms of eternity. Pray for our brothers, Jude, Michael, Simon, Alan and Paul that they may always remain close to Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. Pray that their lives and ministry may be filled anew with the Holy Spirit so that they may become powerful icons of the Lord’s love and mercy to the Church and to the world.
“Out of the priestly people of God, Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, chooses men and sets them apart to serve God’s people in his name as ordained priests. This is a truly noble calling.”
Michael Brookes, from Dereham, was raised in an Anglican family and, after university, followed a career in psychiatric nursing. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1991 and later spent several years with a religious order before discerning that his future did not lie there. “After leaving I felt a strong sense that God was guiding me towards the discernment of diocesan priesthood, a vocation which I had not previously considered,” said Michael. For the last four years Michael’s time has been split between St Mark’s Ipswich and the Beda College, in Rome and he has now been appointed as Assistant Priest of St Edmunds, Bury.
Paul Spellman, from Sheringham, said: “My time at the Pontifical Beda College has been one of immense personal growth. One that has required me to listen more closely, like Elijah was asked to do, to the whisper of God’s voice and to bend my ear to hear what it is God is asking of me,” he said. Paul has been appointed as Assistant Priest of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge.
Simon Davies was born in Cyprus, where his father was stationed in the RAF, moving to St Neots in the 1990s. He served at Mass as a teenager and studied History and Politics at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and served at both the student chaplaincy and St John's Cathedral. In September 2017 Simon recommencing his studies at Wonersh Seminary in Surrey after being accepted by the Diocese to train as a priest.
Simon has been appointed as Assistant Priest of St John the Baptist Cathedral, Norwich.
Alfonso-Jude Belnas is from the Philippines, with strong links now to St Philip Howard, Cambridge. He trained at St Mary’s Seminary, Oscott (Birmingham). Jude has been appointed as Assistant Priest of St Luke, Peterborough.
Alan Hodgson, born in Cape Town, South Africa, is a former aircraft fitter and Operations Manager at Gatwick Airport. Alan trained at the Beda College in Rome and has been appointed as an Assistant Priest of St Mary, Ipswich.
To view a full picture gallery of the ordination Mass, click here or see below.