Father Bernard Boylan, who has just notched up 40 years as a priest took his Hampton parishioners by surprise, when he asked them to help fund the considerable cost of sending young adults from St Theodores R.C to the World Youth Day in Sydney next year.
The parish had been expecting to buy their 64 year old priest a significant gift to mark his 40th jubilee. Martin Cross, from the Parish Council, explained: 'He told us that 'the best present I could have is funding somebody from the parish to hear Pope Benedict address over a million young people in Sydney next July'.'
'An outpouring of faith and devotion'
Father Bernard, who celebrated his jubilee on Sunday 20th May, told his congregation how deeply moved he was when he travelled to Poland in 1991 to hear Pope John Paul II preach to over a million young people and said: 'I am still moved when I remember those extraordinary days: a never-to-be-forgotten outpouring of faith and devotion after years of being held under the communist yoke.'
So, collections were held after every mass to give Fr Bernards youth fund a flying start. But the parishioners of St Theodores did at least get to hold a weekend of celebrations, and hundreds of Hamptonians stayed behind after masses to take a glass of bubbly with the priest who has faithfully served them for the last 12 years.
They were treated to a display of photos from Fr Bernards early life, showing his ordination in the newly consecrated Liverpool Cathederal 40 years ago. During each mass, Martin Cross praised the work that Fr Bernard had done for the parish. 'God answered our prayers when he sent us Fr Bernard. The parish has gone from strength to strength under his guidance.'