'Down South and Up North

... and a subsequent surprise announcement

“I will go unto the Altar of God, even unto the God of my joy and gladness” (Ps. 43) 

David Jones writes:

On 27th June, 1992 in S. Stephen’s Church, Gloucester Road, Bishop John Hughes (RIP) ordained Neil Kelley as a priest.  Twenty five years later, in St James’s Church, Bushey, friends and colleagues from across the years, gathered together for a Silver Jubilee Eucharist to thank God for the opportunity and privilege of him serving as a priest in the Church.

A dozen members of S. Faith’s, including Fr Dennis, Revd Denise and newly-ordained Revd Jackie, travelled down to Bushey in Hertfordshire for the High Mass of the Holy Spirit.  Outside the church, a large marquee had been erected – but we learned that it had been left up by the local restaurant following a private event there.  It later proved to be valuable as it began to rain quite heavily.

Before the Mass, the organist played a Bach Fantasia and then the entrance hymn was “Angel-voices ever singing”.  The first reading, from Isaiah, was read by the Mother Superior of S. Mary’s Convent, Chiswick and then our own Treasurer, David Jones, read the second lesson from 1 Corinthians.  The sermon which was both entertaining and spoke of Fr Neil’s faithfulness, was given by Fr Michael Wood of S. Bartholomew’s, Armley (in the Diocese of Leeds), and he started by re-assuring us that “Fr Neil is not dead” – this was in reference to the tone of his sermon not being a eulogy!

Throughout the Mass, the music was beautiful and uplifting.  The anthem at the Offertory was Parry’s “I was glad” and, during Communion, we listened to “Panis Angelicus” and Mozart’s “Ave, verum corpus”.  Music for the soul!  The choir was conducted by the Master of the Music at S. Albans Abbey.

Afterwards, we adjourned to the marquee for fizz and canapes – it was just like old times!  The churchwardens presented Fr Neil with a drawing of St James’s Church.

It was a very happy occasion and we thank God for the years of dedicated service at S. Faith’s (1998-2012) and many more years of service ahead.


Unexpected Postscript

Only a week later, on Sunday, 2 July, it was announced that, after five very busy years at Bushey, Fr Neil is leaving to take up a new post as Rector of Chorley in Lancashire, probably starting in October. He wtites:

"It is with a mix of emotions that I announce I will be moving on from Bushey in September. The Bishop of Blackburn has invited me to be Rector of St. Laurence, Chorley (Lancashire) and I will be taking up that appointment in October. My final Sunday in Bushey will be 24th September.

After five very busy and rewarding years here in Bushey the time feels right to accept a new challenge. In the meantime please remember me in your prayers as I prepare for this new stage of ministry. Please pray for the parish of Chorley and for all in the parish of Bushey also."

Editorial Postscript

Fr Neil and musical friends will in fact be venturing north on a more temporary basis to present an evening of popular classics at St Faith's on Friday, 28th July next.