Norwich man becomes first St John’s parishioner to be ordained in 25 years

Academic and former prison chaplain, Andrew Eburne,has become the first parishioner from St John the

Academic and former prison chaplain, Andrew Eburne,has become the first parishioner from St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 25 years. Picture: Keith Morris - Credit: Archant

A man from St John the Baptist Cathedral in Norwich has become the first of its parishioners to join the priesthood in a quarter of a century.

Andrew Eburne, a chaplain at the University of East Anglia and former prison chaplain, was ordained at the cathedral in Unthank Road earlier this month.

A former academic at Oxford University, Fr Andrew began his journey to priesthood in 2009, when a chance encounter in the cathedral led him to become a prison chaplain.

Recalling his move from academia to the prison service, he said: 'It was moving from one walled and gated community to another,

'But I learned a lot from the prisoners. They showed me that prison can be a place of grace and resurrection.'

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In 2013, Fr Andrew returned to the academic world, becoming chaplain at the UEA.

It was then that The Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, sought permission from Rome to ordain Fr Eburne and he was sent to London to complete his training.

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Fr Andrew said: 'A lot of people had suggested to me that I might be called to the priesthood: close friends, and priests among them. 'But it hasn't been an easy journey. For a long time I prayed to God – 'if there is anything else you want me to do, just show me!

'I had to learn to give up my own plans, and put myself in God's hands. When I did that, and left everything to Him, then I found peace.'

Joining the priesthood at a ceremony in St John's on July 20, Fr Andrew first lay himself before the altar in a act of symbolic abandonment before receiving a prayer of consecration. He was then clothed in the sacred vestments of priesthood.

In his homily, Bishop Hopes said: 'The call to be a priest comes from God alone. Andrew – God has called you, chosen you, for his own purposes – to be a priest in the Catholic Church and to continue the work of his Son as Teacher, Priest and Shepherd.'

Following his ordination Fr Andrew will continue to serve at the Cathedral parish and as chaplain to the UEA.

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