This week we extend a big Nidderdale welcome to Father Maurice who is our relatively new Catholic priest. When I spoke to him I found he was anxious to get to know us all and to become part of the community.
Pateley Bridge is certainly going to be a real life change for Fr Maurice as all his earlier ministry has been spent in cities.
Let’s start at the beginning – Fr Maurice was born and grew up in Newcastle.
His parents were devout Roman Catholics and it was a sadness to his father that because he was married he could not be a priest. When as early as the age of six his son voiced the desire to join the clergy Maurice’s parents were of course delighted and enrolled him in a seminary at the tender age of 11.
Very few of us really know our own minds so early in life and this early decision did not work out. Looking back, God could have been making sure that his new recruit experienced the world and all its joys and temptations. Leaving the seminary Maurice finished his education in the ordinary school system and then fell into an assortment of jobs. All this was good preparation for becoming a parish priest.
Yes, in spite of all this Maurice did emerge as Fr Maurice. At the age of 36 he went back to the seminary and resumed his studies before becoming ordained.
Fr Maurice’s first job was as a curate at Selby. This post involved him becoming chaplain to a school and brought him into youth work. From then onwards his life was to be at the centre of cities working in Keighley, and Leeds twice and Bradford twice. It was from Leeds that he was sent to minister to us at Pateley Bridge.
Describe a typical day
I am responsible for Pateley Bridge and Bishop Thornton. Menwith Hill now has its own chaplain. I say Mass every day – either at Bishop Thornton or Pateley Bridge and of course at them both on Sundays.
Each church has its own social events and I am gradually getting to know when they occur. Shortly after I arrived there was a Barbecue at Pateley Bridge.
Gone are the days when priests had their own housekeepers and I have to fit in all my own shopping, cooking and general household tasks. Fortunately, I am happy with my own company and when I find myself with free time I enjoy reading
What would be your perfect day out?
I endeavour to regard Monday as my day off and when I have said Mass, I do my shopping and sometimes go into Harrogate. I love to go into the town centres.
I always did this in my previous parishes. As well as this I am now trying to explore the surrounding villages.
What is your favourite part of the dale?
When I look out of my door I have an amazing view.
What is your favourite Nidderdale business?
I am fascinated by the antique shops of Pateley Bridge. Unfortunately though, they seem to be closed each time I go down. Perhaps this is because my day off is Monday!
What is the biggest change you have seen in Nidderdale?
I have not been here long enough to see much local change but my own lifestyle has certainly changed by moving to a rural area.
What makes Nidderdale special?
I hope it will be. It is such a new experience.
If there is one thing that you could change what would it be?
I would have liked the special companionship of someone and to have had the opportunity to be a married priest.