The Catholic communities of Cleckheaton and Heckmondwike came together twice to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of their Parish Priest Father Nicholas Hird.
The first of the two Masses of Thanksgiving took place at Holy Spirit Church, Heckmondwike.
The church was crowded with present and former parishioners of Fr Nicholas, together with friends and a large number of fellow priests from across the Diocese of Leeds, along with Canon Paul Embery (Lancaster) and Canon Mark Floody (Northampton) with whom Fr Nicholas had studied at both junior and senior seminary.
At the end of Mass long-time Heckmondwike parishioner, Peter Moreland, spoke with appreciation about the changing nature of the ministry of Fr Nicholas, which began in the area in 2001 when he was appointed Parish Priest of St Paulinus, Dewsbury, and which has now evolved – due to the decreased numbers of clergy and congregations – to him looking after the spiritual needs of two churches.
A presentation was made to Fr Nicholas on behalf of parishioners by Bethany Moreland.
After the Mass a reception was held in Holy Spirit Primary School, some of whose pupils fulfilled the role of altar server during the Mass proudly wearing their distinctive burgundy uniforms.
A second celebration took place on the actual date of the anniversary (Wednesday 19 December) at Our Lady and St Paul’s Church, Cleckheaton. Again the church was full to capacity with parishioners, friends, fellow clergy and a number of guests from Otley, the hometown of Fr Nicholas, a majority of whom had been present at his ordination in St Anne’s Cathedral, Leeds, in 1993.
Fr Nicholas has served within Kirklees consecutively for over 22 of his 25 years as a Priest.
His only curacy was in Leeds (1994 – 96) from when he moved as Catholic Chaplain to the University of Huddersfield (1996 – 2001).
For a decade he served in Dewsbury, nine of which as Dean of the Heavy Woollen Deanery, before moving to back to Huddersfield in 2011. In 2014 he was appointed to Cleckheaton, and the following year assumed responsibility for both Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton.
In September he was appointed to the role of Dean once again.