Former Parish Priest: Fr David Elder (now retired)
I was baptised David Joseph Elder at St. John Vianney’s Church Blackpool in 1943. I was named after my Dad’s brother, Uncle David, a Presbyterian Minister in the Church of Scotland, and after my Mum’s brother, Uncle Joseph, a Catholic priest in Ireland! It was as though God had wanted me to follow my Uncles from my birth! I am very grateful to God.
I went to St. John Vianney Primary School and then to St. Joseph’s College, Blackpool, run by the strict Christian Brothers. Having applied to Bishop Flynn to become a student for the priesthood in the Lancaster Diocese, I was sent to study philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in Ireland. After three years I was transferred to Sèminaire St. Sulpice, in Paris, where all the lectures were in French, there to study theology. I spent four exciting years in Paris during the 2nd Vatican Council.
I was ordained priest in my home parish by Bishop Foley, who subsequently sent me to St. Michael’s College, Underley Hall, Kirkby Lonsdale, to teach physics and French and to coach rugby. I taught there for seven years, until the college closed. I was then sent to qualify as a teacher!
I went to London University, Chelsea College (which became part of Kings College) and I graduated in physics and with a Graduate Certificate in Science Education. I never taught physics again! I was sent by the Bishop to teach Mathematics at St. Joseph’s College, Upholland. I was only there two years when the Bishop moved me to Preston to become the Director of the Diocesan Catholic Caring Services, where I served for seven years.
By this time, I had been a priest for 21 years and had never served in a parish – my highest ambition at that time was to become a curate; I failed! Bishop Brewer then appointed me to be the Parish Priest of St. Gregory’s, in Workington, West Cumbria. I was soon as happy as a sand-boy! After six happy years I was moved to St. Patrick’s, Heysham, before being moved to SS Mary & Michael’s, in April 2002. I am very happy to remain in this wonderful parish until I retire!
During all the years after ordination that I had no parish ministry, I sought out spiritual ministry by giving retreats in my free time. Eventually I trained as a Spiritual Director in the Ignatian Centre for Spirituality at Milford, Ohio, USA. I now have a busy ministry in spiritual direction, in which priests, religious, lay people, Catholics and Christians of other denominations, come to see me, for me to accompany them spiritually. I find this ministry very fulfilling and it complements my ministry as a parish priest.