Priests celebrate Silver Jubilees, Ruby Jubilees, Sapphire Jubilees, Golden Jubilees, Diamond Jubilees, but not many celebrate a Platinum Jubilee ! Canon Mattie Hayes, was seventy years a priest on 11 July and to honour the occasion, a special concelebrated Mass took place at St. Joseph’s Home, Cotham Hill, Bristol where Mattie, as he is affectionately known, resides. Mattie himself, at ninety four years, was the Principal Celebrant and Preacher.
Family members gathered from Ireland, Canada and different parts of the UK for a joyful Mass followed by a Buffet laid on by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Relations in Australia were unable to be present.
The Mass Readings, Prayers,Hymns and music were chosen by Mattie. In his Homily, Mattie referred to the great Feast of St. Benedict, Patron Saint of Europe, whose Feast Day is was and how it is permissible for the Celebrant or other relevant authority to choose different Prayers and Readings on such special occasions ———— those who know Mattie know that he is a knowledgable Liturgist who doesn’t tolerate any unauthorised deviation from Liturgical guidelines ! His Homily emphasised the need to continue to pray without ceasing for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. He reminded us that on his Ordination Day at the Pro-Cathedral, Bristol three others were ordained with him …. Paddy Cronin, Paddy Lynch and Donald McMillan …. “I am the only one alive, I don’t know why”.
At the end of the Mass, Monsignor Liam Slattery, a fellow Tipperary man, passed on Bishop Declan’s congratulations and gratitude to Mattie for all his pastoral work in our Diocese, including being Chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission for several years as well as his service in good work in all his appointments. The Bishop assured Mattie of his own remembrance in prayer during the Clergy Retreat at Assisi, as well as the prayers of the priests on the Retreat. Not only did Mgr Liam pass on Bishop Declan’s letter, but he also, on the Bishop’s behalf, presented Mattie with a special Papal Blessing from Pope Francis.
Before the Mass ended, Mattie’s brother, Willie Hayes addressed the congregation with words of tribute and thanks on behalf of the Hayes family. Willie expressed thanks to the Little Sisters of the Poor and Staff here at St. Joseph’s Home for the kindnesses, something which he himself has experienced during his visits. He reminded the congregation that their uncle, Canon John Hayes, also served in Clifton Diocese, his last parish being St. Nicholas of Tolentino, Bristol where he died in 1948.
The occasion cannot go without mention of Mattie’s great devotion to Blessed John Henry Newman and that Mattie has written and published no less than three volumes on Memoirs of his life. We await the next volume !
Fr Tom Dubois spoke with Fr Mattie after the mass and asked him about his long service and ministry.
Bishop Declan’s letter to Fr Mattie read by Mgr Liam Slattery: