Staff and pupils at Faith Primary Academy bid parish priest a fond farewell

April 3, 2023

Staff and pupils at Faith Primary Academy held a special retirement service for its parish priest, Fr Denis Blackledge SJ

The dedicated assembly took place at the school, located on Prince Edwin Street, and saw Fr Denis honoured for his dedication over the past seven years.

Pupils sang Our God is a Great Big God and presented Fr Denis with gifts, while headteacher, Miss Sarah Williams, and RE lead, Mrs Ashleigh Martin, gave heartfelt speeches and talked movingly about how much Fr Denis means to the school and how he has been a key pillar in the Everton community.

As the children filed out of the service, pupils gave Fr Denis hugs and lots of high fives.

Fr Denis Blackledge SJ said: “One of the greatest blessings of being parish priest here at St Francis Xavier’s Church is the vital link with Faith Primary Academy. Relations with the head and staff are excellent, and a credit to all concerned. There is plenty of opportunity for lively ecumenical and growing interfaith worship and practical cooperation.

“Our pastoral associate, Debbie Reynolds, has developed a rich vein of friendship with children and families through her presence and work at Faith week-by-week.”

Miss Sarah Williams, headteacher of Faith Primary Academy, added: “The service was the perfect opportunity to give thanks to Fr Denis and show him how well-loved he is by the school community. Over the years, the children have developed an incredible bond with him and they would always be excited when he came into school or if we went to St Francis Xavier’s Church.

“Fr Denis has touched the lives of many here at Faith and although we’re very sad to see him retire, we wish him nothing but the best for the future.”

The parish has been served by Jesuit brothers and priests for 175 years. Last year, it was confirmed that the Jesuits will leave the parish after Easter. They will leave a lasting legacy in Everton and are confident in the knowledge that the community has strong roots and a commitment to the Gospel.

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