My Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
It is with great joy that I address you on my first weekend here at the Cathedral Parish of St Mary & St Helen. I arrived last Wednesday, and I’m amid the chaos of boxes and personal belongings. If any of you have ever moved house, you know how long it takes to unpack.
This weekend fifteen parishes throughout the Diocese of Brentwood will be welcoming new priests. Obviously, there is always a tinge of sadness when our former Parish Priest moves on because we’re all creatures of habit and as the old cliché goes ‘no one likes change’! Please pray for all of us priests this weekend as we take up our new assignments.
Fr Martin has been a friend of mine for well over thirty years, and I’ve met with him a couple of times prior to my arrival here. He has briefed me well, and I’m happy to come as your new Dean of the Cathedral Parish, and really look forward to getting to know you and being at your Service in the years ahead.
I think it’s important you know a little of who I am. I was born in London on 15th February 1955, the eldest of seven children. My mother, Mary came from Co Wexford in Ireland, (died 1995), and my father, John was from Drury Lane, London, (died 1982). We moved from London when I was about 5 years of age to Chadwell Heath, where I grew up. From my earliest memories I always felt called to the Priesthood, and at the age of 18 I left home for the beginning of Seminary formation. I attended a Jesuit College for two years and St Mary’s Seminary, Oscott for 6 years, being Ordained on the 11th July 1981. I served for 9 years in three different parishes as an assistant priest, and then was appointed Parish Priest in another three parishes. My last Parish, St Edmund of Canterbury, Loughton, I served for twenty-one years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life.
In 1995 Bishop Thomas McMahon asked me to study Canon Law and I attended St Paul University in Ottawa, Canada, gaining a License & Masters in Canon Law. I serve on our Diocesan Matrimonial Tribunal as a Judge in annulment cases.
In 2017 to mark the centenary of the Diocese of Brentwood, Bishop Alan asked me to join the Cathedral Chapter of Brentwood as a Canon and Consultor.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the beautiful medieval city of Assisi, Italy for a few days in spiritual preparation for my move to the Cathedral Parish. I asked the invocation of St Francis, St Clare & Blessed Carlo Acutis for the whole parish of Brentwood in this new chapter that is about to begin. I ask for your prayers especially at this time of transition; and may Our Lord and Our Blessed Lady intercede for all of us.
Love & God Bless You All
Rev Canon John J Harvey