Bishop Philip Pargeter may be enjoying a fairly quiet retirement, but the Diamond Jubilee of his Ordination to the Priesthood has not gone unnoticed.

Last Thursday (21st Feb) was exactly 60 years since Bishop Philip’s ordination, marked with a private Mass at Archbishop’s House, and on Saturday 23rd he was guest of honour at a celebration at St Mary’s College, Oscott.

Saturday’s meeting of Knights and Dames of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, of which Bishop Philip was once Prior, acknowledged this very special anniversary.

Bishop Philip concelebrated with Archbishop Bernard Longley, and afterwards guests enjoyed a lunch.

When asked about his 60th anniversary Bishop Philip puts it quite simply: “By the Grace of God…I go on from day-to-day.”

Bishop Philip, now 85, was baptised a Catholic and brought up in a Catholic family. A cousin was a priest who ‘afforded an example’ to him.

He studied for the priesthood at Oscott College and was ordained on 21 February 1959.

A move to Cotton College in the Staffordshire Moorlands saw him serve as a member of staff from 1959 to 1985 - Housemaster (1975 to 1984), Rector (1982 to 1985) and as parish priest for the local community (1984 to 1985).

In June 1985 he was appointed Administrator of St Chad’s Cathedral, and made a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter in 1986.

A keen ecumenist, Bishop Philip became Chairman of the Birmingham Council of Churches in 1988, and was ordained as titular Bishop of Valentiniana, and auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, on 21 February 1990.

“I was very involved in the ecumenical side when I was at the cathedral,” said Bishop Philip.

“In the cathedral, as an administrator as I was, you are involved in a great many things. The civic side, the ecumenical side, and in the city itself. You try to work together for the benefit of the city.

“You are a pastor. You look after the people who come to the cathedral, and those in the parish at Newtown.

“I found it very useful to have served in the cathedral, because I was in touch with a great deal of what was going on.”

During his years of service for the Archdiocese, Bishop Philip has celebrated many confirmation ceremonies and his commitment to this continues – he celebrated eight in 2018, and the same number for this year.

He has also had the joy of meeting Pope John Paul II several times; shaking hands with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Oscott and looking after Mother Teresa when she visited the cathedral in 1992.

“You mingle with saints all the time without realising it,” smiles Bishop Philip. “I am very pleased with the recent news regarding Blessed John Henry Newman and I would like to see Dominic Barberi canonised.”

Following his retirement in 2009, Bishop Philip has moved away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and passes the time walking (every morning), reading and watching television.

But he remains committed to his calling and attends the annual Chrism Mass and ordinations, and particularly enjoys Holy Week, Easter and Christmas.

And his advice for those considering a vocation?

“I would encourage people to do it, the same way I have always encouraged,” he said. “I have tried to be a good servant of the people, and the Church.”

Photo gallery

Rt Rev Philip Pargeter 60th Anniversary of Ordination