A Day of Celebration: Welcome to Fr Peter Hapgood-StricklandSaturday 25th February 2023
An air of celebration filled Salford Cathedral today as our diocese welcomed a new priest.
Members of the clergy from across our diocese – as well those from further afield -joined Bishop John today for the priestly ordination of Peter Hapgood-Strickland.
The joyful celebration welcomed many guests, including friends and family of Fr Peter, parishioners from the parish of Blessed Dominic Barberi in Bolton, where Fr Peter has recently been serving as deacon, as well as members of Oscott College.
Bishop John began Mass with words of gratitude to Fr Peter, saying: “Thank you for making this an occasion we want to see more of in our diocese. Thank you for your generosity and your kindness in offering yourself for priesthood in this diocese.”
During the ceremony, Fr Peter was presented to Bishop John by Fr Michael Dolman, Rector of St Mary’s College, Oscott.
Bishop John then delivered a homily, which explored more about the role of priests in our modern-day world.
He said: “There’s a lovely image that Pope Francis uses. He used it for bishops originally but I think it applies equally well for priests too.
“He said that bishops – or priests – need to be in three places at once. He needs to be ahead of the flock in his pastoral care – as a leader, as a guide, giving wisdom, encouragement, understanding; pouring out the scriptures and their understanding to those in his care: a leader.
“He needs also to be in the middle of his flock, getting to know those in his pastoral care. And in the context of the priesthood, that normally means within the parish community. Understanding where that parish is in its development. And parishes can be so different. And not just understanding the parish, but getting to know the individual parishioners, each of them on their own particular faith journey. How he might encourage each one to respond more fully to the Gospel invitation in their lives.
“And then a priest needs to be in a third place: he needs to be at the back of the flock, making sure no-one gets left behind, or feels rejected, no-one is any way handicapped. That they are able to stay part of the flock, and if they are having difficulty, he is there for them.
“That seems to me a remarkably good image of priesthood in this present day.
“And overwriting all of that is one word: service.”
Click here to listen to an audio recording of Bishop John’s homily.
After the homily, Fr Peter then made a promise of obedience, before prostrating himself before the altar, as a sign of his total dependence of Almighty God.
The ceremony continued as we joined our prayers with the hosts of heaven through the Litany of the Saints, and Bishop John prayed the Prayer of Consecration. Fr Peter was then vested and presented with a paten and chalice, before Bishop John led all priests in a beautiful sign of welcome.
Fr Peter will now return to his parish of Blessed Dominic Barberi, where he will continue his service as a newly-ordained member of the priesthood.
We extend our warmest welcome to Fr Peter and invite you join us as we keep him in our prayers as he begins his ministry.
To find out more about the priesthood in our diocese or to contact our vocations team, please click here.