On 18th July 2012 Carmelite friar Fr. Bernard Jones celebrated 50 years of priestly ordination with a Mass
of Thanksgiving at Sacred Hearts Catholic Church
in the Charlton Kings suburb of the Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham.
The church was full for the celebration.
Father Bernard joined the Carmelite Order in the 1950s after working as a nurse. In the following decades he served in various Carmelite communities across Britain and in a variety of ministries, including retreat ministry, spiritual direction, prison chaplaincy and parish work.
The Carmelite Order has a long-standing relationship with the people of Cheltenham; a community of friars ran a school there, with which some brothers maintain close links as trustees, and a number of Lay Carmelites live in the town. Father Bernard is currently the third Carmelite friar to have served as chaplain at Narazeth House care home
in Cheltenham, run by the Sisters of Nazareth. Some of the sisters as well as residents of the home were present at the Eucharist, as well as parishioners from the various places where Fr. Bernard has served as priest.
Fr. Bernard preparing the communion gifts.
Father Bernard was joined at the altar by many fellow priests from the Order and from the local diocese along with other Carmelite brothers. The friar communities of Aylesford, Faversham, Llanelli/Pembroke Dock, Walworth and York were all represented, and the Prior Provincial
, Fr. Wilfrid McGreal, was among those concelebrating. The homily was preached by Fr. Tom Smith of Clifton Diocese
who paid tribute to Fr. Bernard's simple yet inspiring dedication to service as a priest. Father Tom raised a smile by saying that, as a young priest, he couldn't imagine being 50 let alone 50 years as a priest! In his homily he quoted the psalmist who says that the person whose life is rooted in God continues "to bear fruit when they are old, still full of sap, still green". Father Tom spoke of the many people who have cause to be grateful for Bernard's ministry and presence.
Fr. Bernard giving the blessing at the end of Mass.
Fr. Bernard, assisted by a deacon, processing from the church.
After Mass a delicious buffet was provided by the Catholic Women's League. It was an opportunity for friends old and new to spend time together and celebrate Fr. Bernard's half-century of dedicated service.
Carmelite friar Pat O'Keeffe (centre), who has many links with Cheltenham,
sharing a joke with Lay Carmelite Brenda Thorne and her husband Tony.
Fr. Bernard receiving gifts and warm wishes from many friends.
Fr. Bernard with a parishioner and one of the British Province's younger friars,
Brother Gerard Walsh.
During the Mass Father Bernard had spoken of his great gratitude to his family, many of whom were present to celebrate with him.
Fr. Bernard with his great-nephew Max, and Sr. Teresa, superior of Nazareth House.
The celebration was an opportunity for Carmelite brothers from different communities
to catch-up with each other. (Left-right) Fathers Patrick Fitzgerald-Lombard,
Wilfrid McGreal, Antony Lester, Kevin Melody.
Among the congregation were some people who had been present at Fr. Bernard's ordination fifty years before, including Maureen Fitzgibbon who had qualified as a nurse at the same time as Bernard, and who had brought with her a photo of Bernard's first Mass.
Maureen Fitzgibbon showing Fr. Bernard's photograph to Fr. Francis Kemsley.
Fr. Bernard (second from left) at his first Mass in Aylesford Priory.
He is shown alongside fellow Carmelites (left-right) Fr. Titus Hoekstra (subdeacon),
Fr. Hilarion Nolan (deacon) and Fr. Marcellus Fennell (assistant priest).
The celebration cake.
Fr. Bernard had been ordained on 22nd July 1962 at Aylesford Priory
in Kent, and has the distinction of being the first priest to celebrate Mass in the newly built Choir Chapel there the following day.
The celebrations concluded with Fr. Bernard cutting a cake, decorated with the Eucharistic motifs of wheat and wine.
Young family members were at Fr. Bernard's side as he cut his cake.
All in all it was a beautiful faith-filled celebration of the life and ministry of a much loved friar and priest.
As reported previously
on this website, earlier in the week another friar from Britain, Fr. Adrian Wilde, celebrated his 40th jubilee of priesthood. Other British friars celebrating jubilees this year are Brother Lawrence Frost (50
years of profession) and Father Brendan Grady (25 years of priesthood).
We wish Fr. Bernard and all his fellow jubilarians Ad Multos Annos!