A joyful gathering of friends, relatives and people from all parts of East Anglia was present yesterday at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacon Henry Whisenant.
The Ordination was celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes, who will be installed as the fourth Bishop of East Anglia at another great celebration at the Cathedral on 16 July.
Fr Henry said: "It is a joy and a privilege to be called to serve God’s people as a Catholic priest. I would like to thank everyone who came to my Ordination and all those who have helped me by their prayers and support. I look forward very much to my new ministry."
Bishop Alan Hopes said: "I am extremely delighted to have ordained Henry as a priest for our Diocese. I know that he will receive a warm welcome and much support from all his brother priests and particularly Mgr Peter Leeming and the Catholic community of Our Lady & English Martyrs in Cambridge where he will begin his ministry. I am also very pleased that as Henry completes his formation, we have two young men who will be beginning their formation for the Priesthood in September at St. Mary’s College, Oscott.
"As I begin this new apostolate as Bishop of the Church in East Anglia, it fills me with joy and hope to see the enthusiasm and openness of those in this Diocese who seek to follow God’s call and serve Him as Priests in His Church."
Fr Henry was born in Texas and moved to Bury St Edmunds with his parents when he was 12 years old and his father, an architect with the United States Air Force, came to work at the bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall. Fr Henry was brought up as a Catholic but had no thoughts of becoming a priest until, while a student at Durham University, he travelled to Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002. This great meeting of Catholic young people with the Pope showed him the universality and vibrant life of the Church, and he began to hear a call from God to serve in the priesthood.
After much thought and prayer, he talked with several priests in East Anglia and decided to apply to train for the priesthood. He was sent to study at the seminary at Oscott, Birmingham, and undertook pastoral placements in several parishes in different parts of East Anglia.
Before he takes up his first appointment in Cambridge, Fr Henry will be spending some time at home, joining the Youth 2000 celebration at Walsingham and supplying in local parishes – and having a holiday!