Sunday 25 July saw Fr Mike Walsh say ‘farewell’ to the parishioners of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Huddersfield as he retired from active ministry after forty-three years of service to the Diocese of Leeds.
His final Mass at English Martyrs church was attended by the largest congregation seen there since before the advent of Covid-19; in itself an indication of the affection and esteem in which he is held by the parish. The same is true in the other places where he has served over the years, and especially where he has been Parish Priest – at Thornton, Haworth, Pateley Bridge, and Tadcaster; his final appointment to Huddersfield was the second time he had been PP at English Martyrs, having been there previously in the late 1990s.
Parish Deacon, Rev James Aitchison, paid a warm tribute to Fr Mike at the end of Mass, thanking him for the kindness, care and friendship he had shown towards the people of the parish, during some difficult times. His remarks obviously struck a chord as they were followed by a standing ovation for Fr Mike from the congregation.
For the Final Blessing, and to the surprise of none, Fr Mike donned a special ‘stole’ in the colours of his beloved Manchester United. Outside the church, on a warm Sunday morning, fully an hour after Mass had finished Fr Mike was still receiving good wishes from members of the parish.
Retirement will no doubt allow Fr Mike more time to follow the fortunes of MUFC, and more time for golf. We wish him good health and every happiness in the years ahead. Ad multos annos!