A law graduate who spent six weeks in Bury St Edmunds as a student priest has received a ‘warm welcome’ from the town after returning 23 years later.
Father Mark Hackeson, a former University of East Anglia chaplain, is to replace Fr Philip Shryane at the Catholic Church of St Edmund King and Martyr in Westgate Street.
His first Sunday service was last weekend and, as it coincided with his 50th birthday, a joint welcome/birthday celebration was held in the church crypt and garden.
Guests included people from Fr Mark’s new congregation, as well as some former parishioners from Poringland, Norfolk, where he spent the last 11 years, and his mother and two brothers from the Midlands.
“There’s a real warmth, that’s what’s impressed me and very much made me feel at home,” said Fr Mark, who studied for the priesthood at The English College in Rome and was ordained in 1996.
He previously served as assistant priest at The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, in Norwich, as priest at St Mary’s, in Great Yarmouth, and in 2003 was appointed as bishop’s private secretary.
He said he was ‘delighted’ to learn of his new appointment to Bury after returning from a sabbatical in Cambodia.
“I have wonderful memories of people’s hospitality here and I’m looking forward to renewing that now,” he added.
Fr Philip’s last Sunday service will be next Sunday (September 21).