The start of March will see the golden anniversary for Fr Michael Lambert of the Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew Church in Hitchin as he celebrates his 50th year as an ordained priest.
Parishioners will be gathering for a weekend of celebrations on 5 and 6 March to mark the occasion with activities including a bring-and-share community lunch.
Fr Michael was aware from an early age that he might have a religious calling in life when at the age of seven he was asked by a convent sister what he might become and promptly retorted that he intended to become a 'bishop'.
The son of a Ward Sister and hospital supplies manager,
Fr Michael was born in 1939 and grew up in Sherwood near Nottingham. His father was on active duty for the entirety of WWII and only came into Michael’s life on his return
Training to become an Assumptionist priest saw Fr Michael spend time as a young man studying in France from where he was very unlucky to return having contracted typhoid, whilst simultaneously suffering from appendicitis and anaemia.
After a period of convalescence at Foxholes, Hitchin, Fr Michael completed his training in Belgium and was ordained sub-deacon and then deacon in 1965.
Returning to England, Fr Michael was ordained a priest on 5 March 1966 in his home town parish in Sherwood. Shortly afterwards he studied for four years on a teacher training course at the Liverpool Hope University. Under his stewardship as a volunteer returning officer for the student union, the university allowed mixed visiting for the first time.
Fr Michael has served as a priest in a number of parishes in Rickmansworth, Brockley, Bethnal Green and Charlton. In all communities he has played an active role in youth work, local schools and chaplaincy support for district hospitals. He has also led parishioners from his various parishes on a series of pilgrimages to the Holy Land and helped to orchestrate a celebration of unity between churches and religions on the edge of the Sea of Galilee.
During a three-year term in Rhodesia in the late 1970s, he taught in local schools, provided tireless support to the main hospital and in the midst of a liberation struggle, provided counsel and strength to families of political prisoners.
Fr Michael became a parish priest at the Our Lady Church in Hitchin in 2000. Since that time he has maintained a meticulous notebook of every couple he has ever joined in marriage, presided over hundreds of baptisms and embraced life in the wider community.
Playing an active role in Hitchin life has seen him serve as governor for both the John Henry Newman School and Our Lady RC Primary School, and Chaplain to the Lister Hospital for 14 years. Fr Michael has provided support to the sick and kindness to those recently bereaved.
He was Dean of Stevenage for 10 years and is proud of having developed a successful partnership between Catholic schools and churches in the North Hertfordshire district.
Fr Michael retires in July 2016 and plans to spend some time enjoying his hobbies of walking and enjoying local heritage sites. However, he hopes to continue to have a hand in counselling and remaining a source of support for his local community...the community he loves.