On March 14th Bishop David McGough celebrated his Golden Jubilee at the Sacred Heart Church in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent,  the Church where he was a parishioner, and was ordained.

The Mass was attended by his family, and by priests and people from surrounding parishes in Stoke-on-Trent.

Bishop David read a homily: 

"First of all let me thank you for being here today to celebrate with me the 50th Anniversary of my Ordination as a priest, which took place here in this Church where I was baptised, made my first Holy Communion and was also confirmed.

"I cannot even begin to consider how many homilies, talks and lectures I have given over the years, let alone the number of lives it has been my privilege to share in so many different settings, from the truly joyful to the heartbreakingly tragic.

"Despite all this, and despite the carefully typed text in front of me, I must confess that today I am, on a deeper level, at a loss for words.

"When you start out you are going to do so much, and as you draw closer to the end, you realise how little you have done; and that the little you have done has been a gift from God and those he has used around you.

"I do indeed give thanks to God and to you all.

"Rather than looking for words of my own, I take refuge in the Words of Scripture, words in which we find God, and find ourselves.

"St. Paul’s prayer in the Letter to the Ephesians has always been for me a beautiful description of what we are, and what we might become.

"Paul prayed that the Father might touch what he calls our hidden selves.

            'May he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong.'

"For me that hidden self has always been that place where we are most completely ourselves.  It is the place of our joys and fears, our hopes and disappointments, our achievements and deepest regrets.  It is ourselves, something that we long to share, but can never be completely shared with another.

"It is here that a loving Father seeks us out.

"It is here that Christ begins to live in our hearts, so that, planted in love and built on love, we are given the strength to reach out to the length and the breadth, the height and the depth, until, knowing the love of Christ, we are filled with the utter fullness of God.

"This is not our work.  It is pure gift, pure grace.

"'Glory to him, whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we could ask or imagine.'

 "It was for this that Jesus prayed in the days leading to his death and resurrection.

"As he prayed for his disciples, as he gave him those last, and therefore most important instructions, he did so as one who had already fortified them with his love.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Remain in my love. Love one another as I have loved you.”

"I often say to young people, don’t worry too much about how you are going to say things, or how you are going to do things. People rarely remember what you said or did, but they never, never forget what you were like.

"It is our love and care that people remember, that stays with them, that has the power to change people forever.

"This is what Jesus was thinking about when he said to his apostles, and has said to us.

      'You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last. What I command you is to love one another.'

"From our first conscious moments we longed, we struggled to be chosen.

"The truth is, we were already, all of us, already chosen in the Lord. Sometimes it takes a life time to come to the beauty of that truth."