Prayers answered at St Anthony’s

The altar at St Anthony's of Padua will be back to full use when the new parish priest arrives in June

The Catholic church of St Anthony of Padua, in Watchbell Street, has been without a parish priest for the past few weeks following the sudden resignation of Father Paul Clarke, who had been at “Tony Pad’s” since 2009. No information has been made available about his departure and there were fears the church might close.

But at a meeting held at St Anthony’s recently, a spokesman for the Greyfriars order that runs the church announced that a replacement priest from the United States will be appointed in June, once his visa has been sorted out, much to the audience’s delight.

The spokesman added that interim arrangements are being put in place so that there will be Sunday masses from Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, until the new priest takes up his post. In the meantime, parishioners will have to attend churches in the surrounding district, a list of which was given to those attending the meeting, unless there is a visiting priest able to take mass at St Anthony’s.

Usually the church would have relied on the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, in whose episcopal see the church is located, to resolve this situation. However, Bishop Kieran Conry resigned in September 2014 having been “unfaithful” to his promises as a Catholic priest although, in a letter to his parishioners, Bishop Conry explained that his actions were “not illegal and did not involve minors”. Since Conry’s resignation, the administration of the see is being dealt with by the Most Reverend Peter Smith, the Archbishop of the Southwark diocese.

At Saturday’s meeting,  the spokesman thanked all those who had written with their support for St Anthony’s and also thanked representatives of all the other churches in the town, who have offered practical assistance, as well as their prayers for the future of the parish.

Photo: Tony McLaughlin