Record number of men ordained as priests in Norwich in a single day
PUBLISHED: 07:55 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:19 09 July 2019
A record breaking event, which saw five men ordained as Catholic priests in one day has taken place in Norwich.
On Saturday, July 6, Alfonso-Jude Belnas, Michael Brookes, Simon Davies, Alan Hodgson and Paul Spellman took part in a Mass of Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood in front of a packed congregation at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich.
The event was the first time in the Norwich Diocese of East Anglia's 43 year history that five men have been ordained in one day.
Each of the men was ordained following studies of up to six years at different schools including ones Birmingham, Rome and Surrey.
Mr Brookes, from Dereham, was raised in an Anglican family and, after university, followed a career in psychiatric nursing. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1991 and later spent several years with a religious order before discerning that his future did not lie there.
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"After leaving I felt a strong sense that God was guiding me towards the discernment of diocesan priesthood, a vocation which I had not previously considered," said Michael.
For the last four years Michael's time has been split between St Mark's Ipswich and the Beda College, in Rome and he has now been appointed as Assistant Priest of St Edmunds, Bury.
Paul Spellman, from Sheringham, said: "My time at the Pontifical Beda College has been one of immense personal growth. One that has required me to listen more closely, like Elijah was asked to do, to the whisper of God's voice and to bend my ear to hear what it is God is asking of me.
"Living in community has helped me to see the richness and value that it offers both to the individual as well as the group as a whole. My experience on pastoral placement in Palestine last summer further challenged that sense of community, especially in light of the daily experience the Palestinian people I was with have," he said.
He has been appointed as Assistant Priest of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge.
In his homily, the Bishop of East Anglia, the Rt Rev Alan Hopes, said: "May the power of this Sacrament of Ordination lift us up today into the realms of eternity. Pray for our brothers, Jude, Michael, Simon, Alan and Paul that they may always remain close to Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. Pray that their lives and ministry may be filled anew with the Holy Spirit so that they may become powerful icons of the Lord's love and mercy to the Church and to the world.
"Out of the priestly people of God, Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, chooses men and sets them apart to serve God's people in his name as ordained priests. This is a truly noble calling."