Page 3, 27th February 1970

27th February 1970
Page 3
Page 3, 27th February 1970 — Golden jubilee of an unconventional priest
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Locations: Liverpool, St. Monioa, London

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Golden jubilee of an unconventional priest

by ARTHUR GODFREY BORN in Liverpool 75 years ago, Canon William Gordon. Rector of St. James's, Twickenham (Midr dlesex), celebrates the golden jubilee of his priesthood tomorrow. A special Mass is being held in the morning, and a more social occasion at nearby St. Mary's College in the evening, will reflect the love rand respect the people of the parish have for their priest.

He has been among them, now, for 34 years, being only the third priest of the 85-yearold church dedicated to St. James the Greater.

Fr. Gordon, as he still prefers to be known, spent a year in a solicitor's office before his ordination and was at the churches of the Holy Name, Bow Common, London, and St. Monioa's, Palmers Green, before moving to Twickenham.

A short article cannot do full justice to Fr. Gord.on's work for the Faith. But if the word "character" means unconventional rather than eccentric, then he is a "character." His informality in the pulpit, while sometimes surprising to strangers, is meat and drink to his "regulars"; they can take his "knocks" and appreciate

his wit and humour, his common sense and complete lack of affectation.

Characteristic are his words about money in the church's year book: "We do not torment people with such horrors as bazaars, fetes, jumble sales, draws, football pools, etc. We rely on the good sense and generosity of our people — and they have never let us down."

Although one suspects that Fr. Gordon has not exactly welcomed. every innovation in the Church—he says: "I do not believe in making changes unless they are changes for the better"—he was years ahead of many in. thinking, and acting, ecumenically. In 1940 he collaborated with the then Vicar of Twickenham in forming a local Christian. Council which is still in being.

The opening of a new parish school 15 months after Fr. _Gordon arrived in Twickenham involved him in years of service to education.

His pungent comments at meetings of the borough education, committee over 20 years are still remembered. He served on the Westminster Diocese School Inspectorate for 15 years, and worked with the late Fr. Thompson of St. Mary's College on a revised religious syllabus.

His regular visits to the parish school have;of course, given him a first-hand knowledge of education in practice. He has a wonderful way with young children who confide in him knowing that their confidence will be respected; tell him jokes, and even make fun of him, knowing they are safe in doing so and aware, probably, that they are likely to get back as good as they give.

Always fluent with the pen, Fr. Gordon has written books on the liturgy and on science and theology. He has contri buted hundreds of articles to the diocesan magazine and to Catholic year books all over the country. He has also been an examiner for the Catholic Evidence Guild and helped 'vet' aspiring Catholic speakers for the Hyde Park soap boxes.

Fr. Gordon's one vice is trains—which 'he loves. Bound copies of the Railway Magazine dating back to 1897, and many other railway 'books, take up nearly as much room in his study as the theological works. On the rare occasions he is away from the parish, he is touring the British Isles by train—a passion which started, 'he says, when at the age of five, he broke away from his mother to board a steam engine —being rescued just in time.

His love of trains is, perhaps, symbolic. For Fr. Gordon is a man whom, one feels instinctively, has always been "on the right lines." He knows hisdestination and has never doubted that the journey 'he started 50 years ago will take him to it.

It is his parishioners' hope that it will be many years yet before that destination is reached.




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