Page 6, 28th February 2003

28th February 2003
Page 6
Page 6, 28th February 2003 — The Bicycle Priest

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The Bicycle Priest

Dr Kieran Moriarty, chaplain to the Salford Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, pays tribute to Fr Eugene Pinnington whose ecumenical efforts brought a Cheshire community together in the 1950s ON JANUARY 31 2003, the parish of Our Lady of Fatima, Barnton in Cheshire celebrated its Golden Jubilee.

Patricia, my mother, one of the few survivors from 1953, told me it was a memorable evening for parishioners, old and new, the bishop of Shrewsbury, Bishop Brian Noble and former priests.

Sadly, Fr Eugene Pinnington, Parish Priest from 1958-65, was too frail to attend. It was especially sad since the whole Barnton community, not just the Parish, owe him an enormous debt.

Bannon, in the 40s and 50s, was a long-standing staunchly Methodist community. My mother and late father, the village doctor, arrived in 1950, close

ly followed by other families of Irish Catholic origin, attracted by jobs in the chemical industry at ICI. There was prejudice in the village and serious concern that these "Catholic families" would have lots of children and change the nature of the village.

Fr Pinnington, riding round the village on his bicycle, with a cheery word and a warm smile for everyone, broke down all the barriers, de-demonised Catholicism and the Catholic priesthood, and facilitated the integration of Catholics into the Barnton community. His saintly, but never sanctimonious, demeanour, coupled to his frugal lifestyle, left itsmark on everyone, especially one of his devoted altar boys (pictured 2nd left, with Fr Pinnington, on his

memorable 8th birthday and First Holy Communion Day, 31st May. 1959).

At Christmas and Easter, people from across the community gave him gifts for the Church.

In 1965, when he left Bannon, the whole village joined together in bidding him farewell. In seven years he had changed the nature of Barnton.

Just seven years that was all it took for this great ecumenical priest to remove fear and prejudice and replace them with trust, understanding and unity. The influence of Fr Eugene Pinnington on the parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima, Barnton, and his enduring legacy to the whole Barnton community, will never be forgotten.

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