THE Roman Catholic parishes of March and Wisbech are having to share a parish priest, due to a shortage of clergy available.
Fr Sean Connolly (44) has been appointed as parish priest of both March and Wisbech, with a view to combining the two parishes in the future.
Both parishes have previously been served by priests from the Institute of Charity, more commonly called the Rosminians. Earlier this year tragedy struck the Wisbech community with the death of their parish priest, Fr Eddie Murphy, who died in a car accident in Ireland.
The Rosminians had already decided not to replace Fr Philip Sainter at March following his departure to take up an appointment in Loughborough in September.
The two parishes are now to be served by priests provided by the Diocese of East Anglia.
Isabella Alecock, chair of the parish pastoral council at Wisbech, said: “After a number of months relying on local clergy to help us out, there is a feeling of excitement at the prospect of having a parish priest once more.
“We are also delighted to be working with our sister town March.”
David Rees, chair of the parish pastoral council at March added: “After so much uncertainty we look forward very much to having our new priest Fr Sean among us, so that we can support him as we work together for the mission of the church today, both here in March and in Wisbech.”
Fr Sean comes with a background in education. He holds a doctorate in theology, has published three books and taught RE for a number of years at secondary school level.
He has served as a priest in the parishes of Great Yarmouth, Wymondham and most recently Newmarket.
Fr Sean said: “I’m a little daunted at the challenge of running two parishes but, having met people from both March and Wisbech, am delighted to be here and look forward to making many new friendships over the years ahead.”
Services of Thanksgiving for the work of the Rosminian Fathers have been arranged for Wednesday October 17 at 7pm in March and October 18 at 7pm in Wisbech.
Revised Sunday Mass times are: Saturday (Vigil Mass) 6pm Wisbech; Sunday 8.30am Wisbech (Polish); 9am Chatteris; 9.15am March and 11.15am Wisbech.