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Thursday, January 19, 2017
Gift from prison 'lifer' marks priest's half century
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 Fr Andrew Dorricott MBE of Our Lady of Ransom in Rayleigh has just notched up a half century as a priest, with 45 of those years spent in the same parish. Around 400 people attended Mass on the anniversary itself, Friday 30th May, somewhat to Fr Dorricott's surprise. "I didn't expect so many," he said modestly. During the service he told the congregation: "I have never lost the sense of wonder that comes to me at the consecration, that I could be used to bring Christ to others." Fr Dorricott, who was awarded an MBE for services to the community in the Millennium honours list, was showered with gifts on his anniversary. One was particularly interesting. A woman serving life in Hockley prison Bullwood Hall, where he has been chaplain since 1962, had painted him a picture of the crucifixion, using colours that matched decoration in the parish church. A weekend of celebration of Fr Dorricott's anniversary will be rounded off with a special Mass in the church this evening, attended by many of Fr Dorricott's brother priests and the Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon, who will give the homily. A reception will follow in the church hall. Fr Dorricott began his ministry as a curate at Upminster 50 years ago, where he recalls getting on his bicycle to look after Harold Wood Hospital and setting up a branch of the Catholic Nurses Guild. He then served as assistant priest at Immaculate Conception in Chelmsford before stepping into the breach in Prittlewell while the parish priest was in hospital. A stint as assistant at St James the Less in Colchester followed. At that time Brightlingsea, nine miles away, was in the parish and he had to get there fairly frequently. He abandoned the bike and bought an old car. "It was a 1934 Rayleigh Kestrel," he recalls. In April 1958 Fr Dorricott was appointed parish priest at Our Lady of Ransom in Rayleigh. During his tenure the church itself was completed, the presbytery and Pope John Paul II Hall built and St Pius X church in Hockley extended. He was the driving force behind the establishment of Our Lady of Ransom primary school, travelling to Ireland in 1961 to negotiate with the Sisters of Mercy in Cloynes. In 1966 the school opened, funded by the parish and the Order, and the nuns built a convent next door. "The nuns are the trustees of the school and provided many teachers in earlier years," says Fr Dorricott. "They were most generous." Fr Dorricott has also been chaplain at Bullwood Hall, the women's prison in Hockley since 1962, a role that has given him much fulfilment. And his contribution there was marked by a surprise anniversary gift, which linked his prison work with his parish. He said: "One of the lifers ­ not a Catholic ­ painted me a beautiful picture of the crucifixion. She got one of the nuns to take a photo of the appliqué colours in the church and painted flowers in those hues in the picture." His long service at the prison, combined with his work in his parish, earned Fr Dorricott an MBE for service to the community in the Millennium Honours list. In June 2002 he received Freedom of the City of London. He said: "I couldn't have wished for better people to serve ­ they have been wonderfully kind to me. Serving the parish and the prison has given me enormous satisfaction ­ I hope to be here for my jubilee." Source: Brentwood Diocese
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