On Monday 22nd October 2018 the church of The Holy Spirit at Heckmondwike was filled to capacity as Fr. Nicholas Hird began the celebrations marking his Silver Jubilee of Ordination which will take place on 19th December when a second Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated in Cleckheaton.
As well as parishioners from both Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton, the gathering included Fr. Nicholas’s father, Patrick, friends and representatives from his previous appointments within the diocese. Bishop Marcus was present on the sanctuary as were over twenty priests from the diocese, together with Canon Paul Embery (Lancaster), with whom Fr. Nicholas studied at Upholland College, and Canon Mark Floody (Northampton), who was a fellow student of Fr. Nicholas at All Hallows College, Dublin.
Inspired by the words of Pope Francis at the recent World Meeting of Families in Dublin Fr. Nicholas began Mass with some words of sorrow and contrition for the times during his priesthood when “thought has not been quick enough, the body has lacked spontaneity, and the tongue has been overly nimble”. Later, in the homily, he returned to the Holy Father’s call for a greater use of the words and phrases: I’m sorry – please – thank you. Fr. Nicholas thanked all those who had helped him discern his priestly calling, together with those who continue to do so in his present appointment. In acknowledging that the seedbed for his vocation had been his family home in Otley, and above all the influence and example of his parents, Fr. Nicholas publically thanked his father for the “very generous support and encouragement” that he received from him and his late mother, Dorothy, who died in 2016. For his future, Fr. Nicholas simply asked to be granted the continued privilege of being able to celebrate Holy Mass, echoing the whole context of the evening in the words printed on a card marking his quarter of a century as a priest: “What return shall I make to the Lord for all He has given to me ? I will take the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116). The Prayers of the Faithful during the Mass included mention of the former clergy of the diocese to “who Fr. Nicholas has been so faithful in his historical research”.
During the offertory procession Fr. Nicholas’s chalice was presented to him by his father as it had been on the day of his Ordination in St. Anne’s Cathedral. At the end of the Mass Peter Moreland made a presentation on behalf of the community at Holy Spirit Church. Refreshments were served in the Hall of Holy Spirit School after Mass which allowed a wonderful social evening to take place.