Bishop Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds, recently made a visitation to the Parish of St Mary’s in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and he took the opportunity to pay a surprise visit to retired Deacon John Stark.

Deacon John was one of the earliest deacons to be ordained in the Archdiocese of Birmingham back in 1992, pursuing his ministry in the Parish of St Ambrose Barlow in Hall Green, Birmingham.

He was also very active in Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Birmingham.

Now approaching his 90th birthday, John was born and bred in Small Heath, Birmingham, and spent his working life in the car industry in Birmingham and Coventry.

Three years ago he moved from Birmingham to the delightful mediaeval town of Knaresborough so that he could be nearer his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Bishop Marcus reminisced with Deacon John about his days as a priest of St Peter’s, Bloxwich and Sacred Heart, Coleshill; and they also shared happy memories of when Fr Marcus taught John on the Diaconal Formation Programme, firstly at Newman College (now Newman University) and then at Maryvale.

John described to Bishop Marcus how in the early 1980s he had led a hard-working team in the extensive renovation and refurbishment of both the Rosary Church in Saltley and at Maryvale.

Deacon John was also active across the Birmingham East Deanery and was the Deacon at the Mass when Bishop Marcus was inducted as the Parish Priest in Coleshill.