On 1st September 2017 we welcomed 2 new priests to our parish following the departure of Fr. Stewart. The following article appeared in the Parish Newsletter on 3rd September. Fr Nico comes as Parish Priest and Fr. Kieran as Assistant Priest. The Diocese has confirmed that Fr. Stewart will not be returning to the Parish and is taking a year’s sabbatical leave.
“Welcome to Fr. Kieran A. Fitzharris SVD and Fr. Nicodemus Lobo Ratu SVD to our parish.
Both of them are members of the Society of the Divine Word ( Societas Verbi Divini: SVD), known as Divine Word Missionaries. They are an International Community of Catholic missionaries – Priests and Brothers. Founded in 1875 by St Arnold Janssen (1837-1909). Today there are more than 6,000 members serving in more than 70 countries. SVD in England belongs to the Irish British Province ( IBP). St Arnold Janssen also founded 2 sister’s congregations; Servants of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) and the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration (SSpSAP). The other known Saint of the society is St Joseph Freinademetz, (1852 – 1908). He was a pioneer of SVD in China. One of his most famous quotes, ”the only language understood by people everywhere is the language of love”.
Fr Kieran Fitzharris was born in Dublin and was a former bar worker and postman. He originally joined the Society of The Divine Word to be a Brother: that was in September 1975. “Through my formation in the seminary I suppose you could say that I drifted into the priestly vocation”. He was ordained in December 1981. For the first 12 years of his ministry he served in Colombia, South AmerMica, including a year in Panama. In February 1994 he returned to this part of the world, both Ireland and England. For 9 years he worked in St Mary Magdalene, Willesden and 2 years in Hanwell and another 4 years in Bristol.
Fr Nico began his first formation to the priesthood in Indonesia (1992 – 1998) and in Ireland completed (1998 – 2003), was ordained to the priesthood in his hometown in Indonesia 23rd September 2003. After ordination Fr Nico was appointed to work in St Mary on The Quay, Bristol (2004 – 2016).
Fr Kieran and Fr Nico are looking forward to being with us here and express their joy and enthusiasm. They thank God for this wonderful opportunity and invite us all to pray for them and to work with them to make our parish community an International Community of love. As this is their first SVD parish in Westminster Diocese, of course there will be many challenges ahead, but with faith and togetherness they say “we shall encounter the joy of being loved and being at home.”