NEWENT people have paid a fond farewell to a familiar and much-loved priest, who is retiring after serving the local community for more than two decades.

The parish of Newent’s Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael’s Catholic Church recently held an after-service goodbye party for Father Aidan Murray, and many warm tributes were paid.

It is also the end of a tradition, because Father Aidan was also member of the Salesians order and his retirement marks the departure of the Salesian Fathers from this Diocese after 80 years.

One of the many tributes given for Father Aidan was by Jeanette Teasing “ I recall memories of his gentle humour and of his humble caring ways and I especially remember his homilies, his teaching and the fact that he never needed to use notes”.

In a dedication to Father Aidan, the Rt Reverend Bishop Declan Lang said “I am forever grateful for Father Aidan’s presence in Newent, Blaisdon and the Diocese and for his tremendous dedication in his priestly ministry. Father Aidan was also a dedicated Silesian and I would also like to thank the work of the Salesians over the years. I am sorry that they are not able to remain in the parish but I am forever grateful for their contribution and especially that of Father Aidan”.

Mary Francis, a member of his congregation said “ Father Aidan lived by the doctrine ‘it’s all about love’ and thanks to his wonderful pastoral leadership we are now moving forward, prepared to face the future as a parish equipped to grow and flourish. We shall all miss him”.

Chelsea Show Garden designer and also member of the congregation Julian Dowle added “ We have enjoyed his leadership for 22 years now and it is with great sadness that we have to let him go."

Father Aidan said “ I am very sad to be leaving, as Newent has such a good relationship with all the denominations. I have had such a marvellous time here.”.