St. Mary's Church, Woodbridge
"We are here for the glory of God; to be the body of Christ, broken and restored to reflect the Gospel in our lives."
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A Dream Comes True

There was a young man from Hadleigh
Who wanted to serve God so badly;
He trained as a priest;
Celebrated the feast;
And St. Mary’s now welcomes him, gladly.

Saturday, 28th June saw a dream come true for this Hadleigh lad. Paul Hambling was ordained into the Priesthood in the Cathedral at Bury St. Edmunds by the Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Right Revd. Nigel Stock. Surrounded by family, friends and parishioners, Paul was one of eight men and women being ordained, each having served a year in parish work since they became Deacons in 2007. (Photos here).

For Paul, it was a huge step: from a humble background, leaving school at sixteen; working at Tesco for ten years; being a young, active member of his local church. Whilst on a parish retreat in Bruges, he sensed that he was being called into ministry. Following a short visit to Australia, more retail work at Buyright in Hadleigh and a year of work experience in inner-city London, he moved to his most rewarding job so far – working in the care sector. But even this didn’t feel ‘right’ for Paul.

Having left school without fame for academic work, Paul pursued Higher Education without giving up the day job. With all the right qualifications secured, he trained at St. Stephen’s House, Oxford, and last year joined St. Mary’s Parish Church, Woodbridge, as Assistant Curate. During the past twelve months, he has endeared himself to many in the parish and town, bringing his sense of fun and humour whilst, at the same time, revealing wisdom and empathy beyond his age.

On the day following his ordination, Paul celebrated the Parish Eucharist for the first time. Leading a full congregation, including many invited priests, should have made anyone nervous. But, not Paul. Or, at least, that’s how it appeared to those privileged to be present. His clear voice, both speaking and singing, was a joy. And an atmosphere of pride and commitment inspired us all.

In true St. Mary’s tradition, a party followed the service, where Paul was able to thank all who had helped make his dream come true. As well as his parents and family, special mention was made of the friend who gave him the nudge he needed to make such a dramatic career change, and of his friend and mentor, Revd. Joyce Willis, who had spoken so warmly of Paul in her address. Gifts were presented to Paul from the clergy and congregation of St. Mary’s and a very proud Mum received a bouquet from her newly ordained Son.

We look forward to the next stage on his amazing journey as he continues to work with us, among us and for us. Congratulations, Paul.