Catholic church in Dagenham ordanes its seventh priest in open ceremony
PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 July 2018
The Holy Family Catholic Church in Dagenham ordaned their seventh priest last week.
More than 300 people, including 40 priests, watched Deacon Rick Fernandez’s ceremony in Oxlow Lane on Saturday.
The ceremony was followed by an open reception in the grounds of nearby St Joseph’s Primary School.
Catherine Ahorituwere, one of the organisers of the ceremony, said: “It was a very special occasion. It brought together all walks of life from the community.
“It was extremely moving, and half the parish were in tears because we could see Rick get emotional. I found it humbling.”
Becoming a priest in the catholic church, which is the next stage up from deacon, can take up to thirteen years, and involves completing academic coursework, as well as daily masses and spiritual retreats.
Rick studied at the Beda College in Rome and became a deacon last July in Dagenham.
“From the day he got introduced into our parish, everyone warmed to him,” Catherine added.
“I know for a fact he was very well received and welcomed and he’s a genuine people person. He interacts with people in such an engaging way.
“On behalf of the parish I would like to thank all those that worked behind the scenes to help the day happen, including Father Stephen, our parish priest, for his sense of leadership.”
The open ceremony and reception was also a chance for those not part of the church to see the work it does in the community.
“The church is not merely there to support members of the parish or practising faith but also non-practising members of the wider community,” Catherine said.
“Within the church we are conscious that some people might not feel included so we try to engage with everyone, especially the most vulnerable.
“We help people who don’t have accommodation by giving them furniture when they move into new homes which are bare.
“And at Christmas, which can be some of the saddest times for the most vulnerable people, we provide gifts for everyone. “The ceremony and reception was a chance for people to see what goes on every day here.”