202220914 Jubilarians
September 14th, 2022

Parish Unsung Heroes: Our Jubilarian Priests of 2022

This month’s parish unsung heroes are those who have devoted a total of 535 years of priesthood, to God’s service. They are our Diocesan Jubilarians, priests who have been selfless in their duty and are celebrating significant anniversaries of ordination this year.

They are:

75 Years – Fr Brian Coogan

Diamond Jubilee 60 years:

Rev David Quarmby

Golden Jubilee 50 years:

Rev David Forrester

Rev Paul Lyons

Rev Antony Pennicott

Ruby Jubilee 40 years:

Rev James Carling

Rev Dermot Fenlon

Rev Jamie McGrath

Rev Andrew Moore

Rev Patrick Tansey

Silver Jubilee 25 years:

Rev John Humphreys

Rev Bruce Barnes

We asked each of them to describe their personal journey of service, obstacles that they faced and their inspiration to make the commitment and personal sacrifice on accepting a life of vocation. Here are some of their responses.  

Fr James Carling

Rev James J Carling – who celebrates 40 years of ordination

Where were you born?

Born 4th March 1953 in Barrow-in-Furness.

Why did you become a priest?

The Holy Ghost Fathers had a junior seminary in Grange-over-Sands and visited all the Catholic Primary Schools in the area. Tales of Lions and Tigers and all sort of interesting things. Also, as an altar server I served mass for a couple of Holy Ghost Fathers who lived in area, and they always encouraged me to think about the priesthood. So, I went for a trial day aged eleven and was accepted into the junior seminary. I progressed through, junior seminary, a year’s noviciate in Ireland and through the Missionary Institute, Mill Hill London and then two years prior to ordination to the deaconate worked in Sierra Leone where I spent two years in a parish. I enjoyed my time there and came back for a final year’s study and ordination to the deaconate in the Holy Ghost Parish in New Barnet and then ordination to the priesthood at the Holy Ghost Parish in Peasely Cross St. Helens before returning to Sierra Leone.

Did you face any challenges or obstructions to your vocation?

Through those years some of the Lancaster Diocesan Clergy, including two parish priests did their best to dissuade me from joining the Holy Ghost Fathers as did some of my local cousins who felt the priesthood wasn’t going to bring in a suitable remuneration and promotion path.

Where have you served?

I worked in Sierra Leone, Diocese of Kenema, for two years as a student and then as a priest. In Sierra Lone aside from running a parish, I helped the seminary in Kenema run a pre-major seminary year, acted as Vicar General and Chancellor while priests were on leave. I was Bishop’s Secretary as the civil war in Liberia spilled into Sierra Leone ran the Kenema Diocesan Relief programme. I trained local priests and people to run it well. After I left Sierra Leone, I spent a year on a course in Dublin and time working in the Holy Ghost House in Carfin, Scotland. I then moved to Jersey working in the West of the Island, then, running both Thatcham and Wash Common. Bishop Crispian then asked me to move to Christ the King and St. Colman, St. Brigid’s West End and Our Lady of the Assumption Hedge End. Bishop Philip then asked me to move to St. Mary’s Alton.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

I suppose my greatest achievement has been working in the villages in my parishes in Sierra Leone and watching the Christian communities slowly grow and develop, buoyed up by the efforts people went to make sure they could get to the mass and sacraments. Also, the thirst for education encouraged me to support the catholic schools in the villages.

If you had one wish what would it be?

I would love our local congregation to be active and as dedicated in attending mass and the sacraments, as in years gone by.

Something unique to you

I enjoy photography, it helped raised funds for various projects in Sierra Leone. I enjoy photographing the nature I see on my daily exercise walks, that I take to help control my diabetes. I post my photos on a couple of local Alton Facebook pages.

Father Patrick Tansey

Rev Patrick Tansey- who celebrates 40 years of ordination

Where were you born?

I was born in Reading, Berkshire.

Why did you become a priest?

I felt God was calling me to be a priest before my teenage years. Although I ‘dodged’ it during university and for a year whilst teaching History to 11–18-year-old young men, by the end of four years as a teacher I was accepted to study at Saint John’s Seminary, Wonersh.

Did you face any challenges or obstructions to your vocation?

Looking back, probably the first year at Saint John’s Seminary was the major challenge to my vocation. There were still some doubts in my mind and, having had several years doing my own thing, the disciplined life of the seminary was a struggle. However, I believe the prayers of family and friends, allied to God’s grace and an acceptance of His Will, brought me through. The following three years were good, despite an intense, shortened course. Mind you, I still wonder why God called me to be a priest! And other challenges came from time to time.

Where have you served?

After Ordination in 1982, I served as an assistant priest in Southsea near Portsmouth, on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, and at Windsor in Berkshire. I have been Parish Priest of Totton, near Southampton, of Faringdon and Buckland in Oxfordshire and, to date, Tadley with Kingsclere and Burghfield Common, covering a large area in Hampshire and Berkshire. After my time at Totton, Bishop Hollis kindly gave me a year’s sabbatical, which I spent at Oxford pursuing political studies.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

An interesting question! Primarily, by the grace of God, remaining faithful to my vocation despite my failings and sins. In pastoral terms, probably the refurbishment of Blessed Hugh Faringdon Church, Faringdon, alongside the sale of Saint George’s Church, Buckland. Why? From my teens I have had a devotion to Blessed Hugh Faringdon, the last Abbot of Reading Abbey and the two secular priests executed with him in 1539. The church in Faringdon, the place some argue he came from, is the only church in the Portsmouth Diocese dedicated to him. My time in Faringdon was one of Mission and Maintenance coming together, resulting in the establishment of a church and centre for the future of the area in a joint effort between clergy and laity, although fractious at times!

If you had one wish, what would it be?

Now, a not-too-distant retirement is in my thoughts, hopefully enabling me more time for prayer and contact with family and pursuit of personal interests, whilst still retaining links with diocesan life as we move into a very different way of church and ministry in the next ten years.

Something unique to me?

Well, probably not only to me. Over the years of priesthood, I do feel God has enabled me to relate well to people – young and old, Christian, and non-Christian. I still remember before leaving Guernsey after three years of ministry there, a Guernseyman saying to me that I was almost one of them. After only three years, which is indeed a compliment from a native of the island!

Fr Anthony Pennicott

Rev Anthony Pennicott who celebrates 50 Years of ordination

Where were you born?

I was born in December 1946 in Stepney, in the East End of London.

Why did you become a priest?

I was brought up in Berkshire: In Bracknell, where I received First Communion and Confirmation. In Wokingham, where I was ordained in Corpus Christi Church by Bishop Derek Worlock on 22 October 1972.In Ascot, where I celebrated my ‘first mass’ at St. Francis’ Church. My primary school was Presentation Convent (now St. Teresa’s), Wokingham. My secondary school was the Salesian College in Farnborough.
then one year at Campion House, Osterley, near Heathrow airport. Then followed six years at St. John’s Seminary, Wonersh, near Guildford.

Did you face any challenges or obstructions to your vocation?

In choosing a career, it honestly did not occur to me to consider the financial aspects. Having been brought up in a straight-forward practising Catholic home, I simply wanted to devote my life to helping other people in whatever way God chose. I didn’t have the stomach for medicine, or the patience for teaching. So as an active altar server and helper at church, I decided to investigate the priesthood. Priests were in short supply and perhaps God was calling me in that direction. If I investigated, it would surely become clear quite soon, whether I was on the right track; I would rely on the Spirit to guide my heart and advise me through the advice and assessment of others. And since ordination I have always been quite certain that I did have and still have a genuine vocation to priestly ministry and life. Celibacy was never easy; it was and is obviously a requirement and, indeed, an imposition rather than a freely given sacrifice. But by God’s grace, I have always been faithful to that vow and can now see what great blessings the celibate state brings to the priestly life and the single-minded service that it enables. The cost is a degree of human loneliness and incompleteness, but no way of life is free of sacrifice, so I have no regrets.

The two elements that strengthened and enlightened me most in my faith and my vocation, were involvement in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, and the further studies that I undertook in my own time – evenings, summer schools, sabbaticals etc. In 1994 I obtained a Certificate in Social and Pastoral Ministry from La Sainte Union College, part of the University of Southampton, and in 2007 (at the age of sixty!) I graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, USA.

Where have you served?

I have served in the following parishes:

Holy Ghost, Basingstoke, 1972-77 – as assistant
English Martyrs, Reading, 1977-81 – as assistant
St. Joseph’s, Havant & Emsworth 1981-84 – as parish priest
St. James’s, Reading 1984-91                                   “
St. Michael’s, Tadley & Kingsclere 1991-94  “
The Annunciation & St. Edmund Campion, Bournemouth 1994-2004 “Sacred Heart, Bournemouth 2004-10                        “
Fordingbridge & Ringwood 2011-2017                      “
Retired to Wimborne 2017…

I retired at the age of seventy, with the Bishop’s kind agreement on the understanding that I made myself available for supply work. Currently, I supply in many local parishes on request, most weekends. This is perhaps the best time of my priestly life, no stress, no arguments and no dealing with parish management, projects, finance, or administration. I simply provide mass, sacraments, counselling – as required. I do believe I am doing God’s work where he wants me to do it.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Over the years I have acted as Chaplain to schools, hospitals, and a prison. I have been privileged to initiate various pastoral programmes – incl. prayer groups, small neighbourhood communities and a new religious community. I have undertaken extensive repair, restoration, and refurbishment programmes in several churches and presbyteries.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

Being a perfectionist and stickler for detail and quality, I was not always the easiest person to deal with. I hope I will be forgiven for being too often over-demanding and over-bearing. Now in stress-free retirement I can be gentler and more caring with people; more sympathetic, more prayerful. As Psalm 26 puts it: there is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long, to live in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, to savour the sweetness of the Lord.

Fr David Quarmby

Reverend David Quarmby who celebrates 60 years of ordination

Where were you born?

I was born in the year 1935 at St. Leonards on sea, Hastings.

Why did you become a priest?

My own vocation did not get off the ground until 1955 when I began the six years of philosophy and theology daily lectures, oral and written exams to pass et cetera and all this time I could have been told I was unsuitable. When ordination came in 1962, I was overwhelmed with the joy of having been accepted: I was never worthy of such a privilege.

I grew up in the Second World War and remember the outbreak in 1939. My parents had the difficult decision of having my brother and sister and me evacuated or taken to relatives and friends to a safer part of the country which accounts for my early schooling in Lancashire.

After the war in 1945 we reunited back home but move to Portsmouth where I continued my school days until 1953.

Life was very different from today’s World: food rationing, no telephone/ wireless/ radio, no TV, no car and “home holidays.”  A short walk to the park for games and entertainment.

A great event in life was walking, and this included church life. It was a social gathering to meet friends at church, to be invited to become an altar server and all that help to fill what could have been a very boring life. Vocations was a constant item of conversation both at home and school. Many vocations were a normal part of life. To be sure of getting acceptance by the Bishop one had to apply early in life and well before the end of school days. Some refusals had to be made because of there being no room in the crowded seminaries.

Did you face any challenges or obstructions to your vocation?

There were of course challenges and obstructions to overcome- with the help of priests, relatives, and friends.

Where have you served?

I was ordained in St. John’s cathedral, Portsmouth by Bishop Holland [who was Co adjudicator to Archbishop king]. As a curate I spent several years in Reading, Gosport, Abingdon, and Southampton. As a parish priest I was at hedge end, Cove, Newport, Yateley and Highcliffe.

Meeting and helping people were a joy and a privilege- especially for such big events as baptisms, first holy communions, confirmations, receptions, marriages, and funerals.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

I could not count the number of unexpected achievements as priests do not spontaneously do this, but people have been outstanding in their kind words of appreciation.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

My wish is to continue living a priestly life until God calls me to himself. In celebrating anniversary of ordination, I can only think of gratitude to God in being allowed to continue celebrating the liturgy in all its many aspects.

Fr Brian Coogan

Father Brian Coogan who celebrates 75 years of ordination.

Fr Brian Coogan was Parish priest at St David’s Church East Cowes for 27 years. A celebration was held for him at Christ the King College in Newport Isle of Wight.  Father Brian is a Mill Hill missionary who lived in Borneo for nine years He will be 99 years old in February is currently in residence at Sandown Isle of Wight.

We thank them all for their dedicated service and ask God’s grace that they are granted many more years to enjoy your charisms.

Gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of our priests.
Through them, we experience your presence in the sacraments.

Help our priests to be strong in their vocation.
Set their souls on fire with love for your people.

Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Inspire them with the vision of your Kingdom.

Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel.
Allow them to experience joy in their ministry.

Help them to become instruments of your divine grace.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest.


If your church has a Parish Unsung hero, please get in touch to share their story at communications@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk. You could just inspire someone!