Goodbye Fr Massie
Blogged by James Preece on 22nd September 2009
Today is Bilbo Baggin's birthday, the day Bilbo went off to live with the Elves in Rivendel and left Frodo to have some adventures on his own. Here in the West Hull Parishes something very similar is going on. Fr Massie is leaving us today to go and live it up large in Scarbrough.
Those with a keen eye for pebbles will note that this photo was taken in Bridlington (on a youth day) but it gives you the general idea...
It's the end of an era for the West Hull Parishes but it's also part of a series of moves taking place across the diocese today and I have to say I think the Bishop is doing the right thing. I've been saying for a while that I think Priests are left in parishes altogether too long and get rather too comfortable with their little personality cults forming around them, better to keep them moving.
We don't want too much of this sort of thing...
Over the last few years Fr Massie has ben a wonderful priest, confessor, mentor and a great friend to Ella and myself and we will miss him tremendously.
We will miss the way he never does anything for young people. Honestly, one of the mums at Church told me. Lots of people think this, because Fr Massie is unwilling to turn the Mass in to a circus, therefore he does nothing for young people...
The truth is that Fr Massie does more for young people than any other priest in this diocese and that's not often given proper recognition. Several times a year he organises youth days involving Football, Mass, talks and Benediction and twice a year he takes groups on conferences to hear talks by people like Bishop O'Donoghue.
Speaking of talks, he organises talks for secondary school aged young people with speakers including Delia Smith, Joanna Bogle , Fr Tim Finigan and even Mark Shea and for the sixth-form/student age group he spends £££s on Pizza so he can invite hordes of 16-25's to eat in his living room so that they can meet other Catholics their age and hear a talk by one of his steadily growing band of mysteriously un-lapsed twenty-somethings (must be some kind of voodoo magic).
You won't know about any of this youth work though, because the dicoesan youth people flatly refuse to support or publicise it. Nice.
Here's a photo during a trip with the youth to the Fransiscan Friars in Bradford. Fr Massie is just whispering (loudly enough for me to hear him) "Watch out for that fellow over there with the blog..."
Fr Massie often warns people as I approach... last week he told our Celebrating Family project worker that I am the L'enfant terrible.
I should also mention that Fr Massie has a variety of handy skills including candle lighting for which he was applauded by non other than the home secretary Alan Johnson...
Navigation (oh look, young people again)...
Saying the rosary (wierd traditionalist!) and walking at the same time!
Playing with children's building blocks (though my tower was higher)...
The thing I will miss most about Fr Massie (and he probably doesn't even think about it) is having somebody to share fatherhood with. Being a young Catholic dad is quite a lonely experience because I have no friends my age to go through it with (wives don't count).
In many ways, the role of the priest in the Church is similar to the role of the father in the family and this leads to a situation where Fr Massie, despite the fact that he doesn't have any children, is the only other Catholic dad I know.
Because of the dearth of Catholic parents regularly taking their children to Church, Fr Massie has never really been in regular more often than once a week contact with a child from birth before. I get the feeling that for both of us, Leona is the first child we have watched grow and develop from birth and we are both of us together learning to be a father to her in our own way.
I've been pretty much doing that on my own anyway, but I have particularly appreciated the moments when Fr Massie and I have spent time together with Leona and the experience of being a father with a child has been a shared one.
We will miss Fr Massie tremendously but of course as he leaves another priest arrives. Fr John Wood is coming to us from Withernsea where he has been saying Mass for my granddad. What do I know about him? Precious little. Last year Ella and I attended a training day for people who read at Mass and he gave an excellent talk on bidding prayers. That's about all I know.
Please pray for all the priests in Middlesbrough Diocse who find themselves in new parishes today.