Fr Vimal Rajan Parunanthu, OMI – Induction as Parish Priest at St Joseph’s, Colwyn Bay
On Friday, 10th February 2023 Fr Vimal Rajan Parunanthu, OMI, was inducted as the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, Colwyn Bay, North Wales in an evening service of solemn dedication presided over by the Right Rev Peter Brignall, Bishop of Wrexham.
It was an impressive sight to see the induction procession. Led out of the Sacristy by seven altar servers, headed by the processional cross and acolytes, there followed numerous of Fr Vimal’s brother diocesan priests and deacons in their white albs, preceding Bishop Peter.
Fr Vimal hails from Sri Lanka and it was entirely fitting that many of the clergy present were African missionary priests symbolising the great witness to, and traditions of Christ’s message having once been taken across the seas from Europe, now being returned to these shores many years later in the persons of priests from the African continent. It was a real testament to the missionary work of many priestly orders and in particular this evening, to that of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Fr Oliver Barry, Provincial of the Anglo-Irish Province travelled over from Dublin to formally give approval for one of his brother priests to continue the OMI’s missionary presence in the Diocese of Wrexham and here in Colwyn Bay, first established in 1900.
There is something special in a night-time service. The focus of the church lights shone brightly on the sanctuary, illuminating God’s presence in the Tabernacle and, tonight, of those entrusted with the teaching and carrying forward of the Word.
During the Mass Bishop Peter spoke in warm welcome and in grateful thanks to Fr Vimal and to Fr Oliver, and in stating what it takes to be a priest, faithfulness and dedication to mission, he could not have more simply expressed the driving force of those present on the Sanctuary with him.
Surrounded by some twelve of his fellow priests, deacons and Bishop Emeritus, Edwin Regan, and in the company of Fr Oliver Barry, and Fr Frank Ryan, St Joseph’s departing parish priest, Fr Vimal ceremonially signed his Oath of Fidelity, Profession of Faith and Letter of Appointment.
Fr Oliver spoke of the role of the Oblates across the world and in particular here in Colwyn Bay, committing their service once more to further its missionary principles in the Wrexham Diocese.
In accepting his new role as Parish Priest, Fr Vimal spoke of the challenges this would bring but emphasised the great opportunities it would also open up in furthering the role of the laity in carrying forward the message of the Gospels with particular regard to our Youth.
But we didn’t just welcome Fr Vimal to the Parish this evening. To assist in developing and progressing the OMI mission within the Parish, he is joined by Brother Michael Moore, OMI who was also formally introduced to the parishioners, though he has long become a familiar face in and around St Joseph’s and was instrumental in drawing together the many aspects of this evening’s preparations.
The Mass was attended by many parishioners and guests with much of the Mass sung with great verve by the choir and accompanying organist. Throughout the Mass they brought both solemnity and celebration in fitting praise of God on this most significant occasion.
Fr Vimal is no stranger to St Joseph’s. He has been serving in the parish for the last three years. He arrived just before the Covid-19 lock-down in the UK, which very much restricted his eagerness to carry out both his supporting and missionary role, with special emphasis on the Youth of the parish. This has flourished with the easing of restrictions and was evident in the number of our altar servers who took part with great dignity in this evening’s induction.
It was both a service of warm welcome and sad farewell as Fr Frank Ryan, OMI, our Parish Priest for the last six years, symbolically handed over responsibility and pastoral care of the parish to Fr Vimal with a handshake in the middle of the Sanctuary. A new beginning for both!
With the final hymn ringing through St Joseph’s vaulted church space the service of dedication and induction came to an end. The new Parish Priest, Fr Vimal was welcomed once more, this time by his new parishioners at his church’s entrance, as they left for home.
– Paul Evans, St Joseph’s, Colwyn Bay North Wales
Visit Saint Joseph’s website: https://stjosephsrcc.org.uk/
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