On Friday 15th September 2017, at the Archbishop’s House in London, on the Feast of our Lady of Sorrows, the SVD IBP signed the canonical agreement with the Diocese of Westminster in respect of the pastoral care of the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows and St Bridget of Sweden, Isleworth, England.
Representing our society were Fr Tim Lehane SVD (IBP Provincial), Fr Nicodemus Lobo Ratu SVD (Parish Priest), Fr Kieran A. Fitzharris SVD (Assistant Priest), and Fr Albert Escoto SVD (Rector of our SVD house in Kilburn, London). Representing the Diocese were Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Mgr Martin Hayes (Vicar General), Mgr John Conneely (Judical Vicar Tribunal), and Bishop John Wilson.
Although Fr Kieran and Fr Nico had already been in the parish since 1st September 2017, this day was regarded as an official historical day both for the SVD IBP and for the diocese as this is the first SVD parish in Westminster. Fr Kieran Fitzharris was born in Dublin and was a former bar worker and postman. He originally joined the Society of The Divine Word to be a Brother: that was in September 1975. “Through my formation in the seminary I suppose you could say that I drifted into the priestly vocation.” He was ordained in December 1981. For the first 12 years of his ministry he served in Colombia, South America, including a year in Panama. In February 1994 he returned to the IBP. For 9 years he worked in St Mary Magdalene, Willesden, and 2 years in Hanwell and further 4 years in Bristol.
Fr Nico was born in East Sumba, Indonesia and began his first formation to the priesthood in Malang (1992 - 1998) and in Dublin, Ireland completed (1998 – 2003). After ordination in September 2003, in Ngallu, East Sumba, Fr Nico was appointed to work in St Mary on The Quay parish in Bristol (2004 – 2016). After a year of Sabatical, he is now back to pastoral work. In the light of our SVD charism, Fr Kieran and Fr Nico thank God for this wonderful opportunity and invite us all to pray for them especially in their work to form an International parish community of love. Of course there will be many challenges ahead, but with faith and togetherness they say “we shall encounter the joy of being loved and being at home.” May the Holy Triune God live in our hearts and in the hearts of all.
By Fr Nicodemus Lobo Ratu SVD.