Canon Gerard Rodgers
Account taken from Canon Rodger's Mass of Thanksgiving for his Golden Jubilee of Ordination.
"One of those truly memorable occasions in Patchway, Bristol when a church packed with the much loved Canon's brother priests, family, parishioners andfriends from far and wide gave thanks for the many blessings received through sharing his life and ministry during 50 years (nearly half of the spent at Holy Family) of unswerving dedication and caring service to his flock. Canon Rodgers was joined by concelebrants Bishop Emeritus of Clifton, Rt. Rev Mervyn Alexander and Fr Manus, his brother from Scarriff, Co. Clare in Ireland (Also ordained 50 years ago and celebrating his jubilee), together with 30 fellow clergy gathered around the altar. Seated in the setting of beautiful flower decorations of grenn, white and gold (noted by Canon Rodgers as not of the red, white and blue variety of the royal jubilee !!) accompanied by the parish choir and children from the parish's two schools in their colourful uniforms, they all made a stunning picture. In his usual jocular manner, Canon Rodgers in his opening welcome, set a very happy atmosphere for the evening. Described later in his homily givne by Bishop Alexander as a people's priest, Canon Rodgers displayed once more his extraordinary talent for making everyone feel specially thanksed for coming to Mass and making it such a joyous thanksgiving. Bishop Alexander in the homily referred to his friend's religious life through many parishes where he was remembered affectionately. they had been together as young priests under the guiding hand of Mgr Long at the pro-Cathedral in Clifton where, it was disclosed, Mgr Long had aptly named his protege Fr Rodgers as "the leprechaun - here one minute and gone the next!" Fr Rodgers' boundless energy was evident in those days! This was put to good use when taking over the pastoral care of the new town of Bradley Stoke, leading to the building of another school (St Mary's Primary) to follow the excellent record set by Holy family Primary School in Patchway. Dogged by ill-health since his retirement as parish priest at Holy Family, Canon Rodgers told the congregation of his wondering if he would see in the new Millenium. Then again if he would celebrate his Golden Jubilee. Through the many prayers offered, the Almighty spared him a few more years yet. In his appreciative manner of always giving thanks, the Canon could not resist a topical present for his successor at Holy Family (Fr Bosco) in the form of an England and St George flag for the World Cup Football. Running through the current record of the Irish team acheivements as opposed to the English team so far, with the two flags adorning the lectern, he once more had the whole gathering rocking with laughter. Fr Bosco in his address invited all to the feast in the hall and to vie the cards and messages from the school children, one of which wished Canon Rodgers a very happy 50th birthday! As Fr Bosco said, Canon's first years as a priest must have been extraordinary! Mass concluded with a presentation to Canon Rodgers of a framed Apostolic Blessing and a gift from the parishioners before the final blessing and dismissal. The party in the decorated hall (the crowd overflowing into the garden!) complete with gold banners and balloons, more flowers and tables laden with food, wine and jubilee cake was total success.
The children from the parish's two primary schools had sung the hymn during Mass:
'Love, love, Jesus is love.
God's greatest gift is the gift of love.'
Indeed a very happy event if ever there was one of a gathering of people expressing so much genuine love, the reward being truly memorable for all present.
This year 2012 we look forward to celebrating with Canon Rodgers his 60th (Diamond) Jubilee on Friday 8th June 2012 with Mass of Thanksgiving at 7pm followed by a Reception in the Parish Centre.
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