Canon Tony's 60th Jubilee
Celebrating 60 years of Priesthood
On Saturday 28th November 2015 a large crowd gathered at the Church of St John the Evangelist, South Parade, Bath to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary of The Reverend Canon Dr Anthony Harding. The main Celebrant was Bishop Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, who gave the Homily at the Mass. During his homily Bishop Declan thanked Canon Harding for his sixty years of faithful service to the Diocese having spent his early years in Curacy at Bath, Swindon, Salisbury and Bristol before being appointed Parish Priest at St George's Warminster, and St Bernadette's, Whitchurch, Bristol. For the past thirty years Canon Harding has been the Diocesan Archivist, keeping the historical records of events and details of the growth of the local Catholic Communities throughout the extensive Diocese of Clifton. Canon Harding has written a number of books, including the Diocese of Clifton, 1850-2000, and Clifford of Clifton, England's youngest Catholic Bishop.
The day at St John's was a most happy occasion with clergy friends and former parishioners travelling from different locations. The Solemn Mass was celebrated with beautiful liturgical music sung by the Choirs of St John's under the Musical Directorship of Rupert Bevan. At the end of the Mass various tributes and gifts were given in appreciation for Canon Harding's sixty years of service since his Ordination in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, Rome in 27th November 1955. Mr Gervase O'Donovan presented Canon Harding with a cheque on behalf of St John's and James Serenhedd presented him with the October edition of the Downside Review, a special number of the Downside review. Dom Aidan Bellenger was unable to attend but writes, " I salute his achievements as a fellow author-priest, as a dear friend and admirer over many years".
The liturgy was followed by a special lunch in the Parish Hall organised by a loyal team, who have supported Canon Harding, especially in his years of retirement at St John's flats. However, as many give testimony his retirement has been a very active one, including regularly duties serving the local Convent and Parishes of Bath Deanery, especially, The Good Shepherd, Batheaston where each Sunday he officiates at the 9.00am Mass. At the Reception Canon Harding cut his special Anniversay cake and thanked Bishop Declan, the clergy and everyone who celebrated his Jubilee Mass with him. He wished too to remember with gratitude his late parents and sister who, in a variety of ways made sacrifices in support of his vocation. With a glint in his eye he urged us to buy his latest book, "Clifton Chapters" which he had made available in the Hall; £10.
All who attended felt honoured to have been present on this historical day in Canon Harding's life and the life of the Diocese of Clifton for whom he has served so well.