New Beginnings

It’s difficult to find words to describe this last week. I knew announcing that I am taking time out would challenge me, but I hadn’t anticipated how much. Change can be unsettling but very positive and that is what I am finding. I would firstly like to thank those of you who have written such kind words to me this week or have sent me gifts, it has made this difficult time easier. I felt very raw after writing my article last week and as the week has gone on, I have learnt two things from it.

Writing and telling you about my condition is the biggest step I have made in accepting and owning it, and since last weekend I have felt a big difference in myself. My diagnosis is something I have been processing privately, I have great support but nonetheless it has been to some extent a private journey. But being open with you all has helped me to accept that I have a condition that has impaired my life. Because my diagnosis has been later in life, I have not accepted my behaviours as a condition but as part of me. Now I am beginning the process of re-understanding myself. I am learning to rely on God in a way I never have before, which is amazing but also scary too!

I have also learnt that if you are genuine, people respond in like and are genuine back. That is a great gift I will take from this week. I have loved working with all of you in this parish, I love people and connect well (most of the time) and that is a gift of ADHD. Many people with ADHD have great empathy for others and as a priest that can be a massive asset for making connections. I believe that is what has made my time here so special for me, connecting with you. That connection is a gift I bring to my preaching which I look forward to each Sunday. I also enjoy meeting you, seeing your passion and love for God and the parish and working with you in that. To cite one example, the Stewards have been phenomenal over the pandemic, so many people stepping up to serve, I have been inspired. I am very sad not to be around to see you and the community grow and to see the graces of these last few years come to fruition. Having lived six wonderful years of my life here I still want to be part of the journey. But as I reflect deeply and honestly, I know I am being called to spend time with God and myself. That is necessary for now even if it means saying a painful goodbye to you.

I am delighted to be able to tell you that Bishop Declan has appointed Monsignor Bernard Massey to be Parish Priest at St. Bon’s from the beginning of September. Mgr Bernard is one of Bishop Declan’s Vicar Generals, a Vicar General assists the bishop in his executive work. Mgr Bernard comes with many years’ experience and some of you may know him from his time at Sacred Heart’s Parish in Westbury on Trym. He is excited to be coming here and I know you will give him the warm welcome you have given me.

Fr Tom

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