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Now it’s Our Turn to Say Thank You.

Over 50 priests are due to step down from their duties of running a parish in the next five years. They will join more than 80 clergy currently living in retirement. Fr Austin Garvey, who is receiving support from the Sick and Retired Priest Fund told us about his life as a priest and explained how much it means to know the Diocese is caring for him in his retirement.

Where did you train and when?

I joined Allen Hall, the seminary at St Edmund’s College, near Ware in 1945 and I was ordained in 1951.

Tell us a little bit about your life as a priest:

I spent my first three years at Cambridge reading Classics with a view to teaching at one of the Diocesan schools. I was appointed at St Edmund’s College and worked there from1954 to 1966. I then offered myself to Cardinal Heenan as a Fidei Donum priest for work in South America. He in turn presented me to the Columbian Missionary Society and they invited me to Peru. I stayed there for 12 years. My efforts focused on creating and promoting opportunities for disabled children in poor areas to receive a Catholic education. On my return, in 1978, I was appointed parish priest of St Patrick’s, Soho Square where I remained until reaching retirement age in 2001.

Whilst I was at Soho Square, I was asked by Cardinal Hume to act as co-ordinator of the Ethnic Chaplains in the Diocese. On retirement, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor allowed me to continue this work. It involved regularly visiting and keeping in touch with the chaplaincies and organising a variety of meetings.

Since I retired I have been living on the top floor of the presbytery in Marylebone. I really enjoy it here. It’s good to be living amongst other priests and be of service to the parish. I say Mass and preach everyday. Our Lady of the Rosary parish is well positioned for public transport so I can get to most places easily. There is also a lift in the presbytery, which is especially helpful!

A final comment…

It is a great blessing to have somewhere comfortable to live. The cost of my training for the priesthood was met by the Priests’ Training Fund. Now, in my retirement I receive a small stipend from the Sick and Retired Priest Fund. The Fund also paid for my three-week convalescence at St. Anne’s after an NHS heart by-pass operation in 2008. For all of these benefits, I am truly grateful.

Your support is ensuring priests like Fr Garvey can continue to serve the People of God in our communities, whilst knowing we are caring for them. Thank you!