After a wonderful 13 years at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Maitland, Father Chris Butterworth has decided to call it a day.
Fr Butterworth led his last mass at the church on Sunday July 2. The new priest, Reverend Canon Paul West was commissioned on Tuesday evening.
It was a bittersweet feeling for Fr Butterworth to finish up after 33 years as an ordained priest.
“I’m a little bit sad about going,” he said.
“Whenever you leave a place you leave friendships and relationships.
“There is a sense of grief in leaving, but also a sense of joy that my wife and I will have more time together.”
But the door isn’t fully closed just yet. Fr Butterworth will still assist in the parish and other parts of the Newcastle dioceses.
Fr Butterworth listed the rationalisation of the church’s assets as a highlight of his time at Maitland.
St Augustine’s, Bolwarra was sold about seven years ago and became a house for the assistant priest while St Paul’s in the park was leased to a child care a few years later.
The funds from the lease were used to employ a family and children’s minister.
Fr Butterworth was also chairman of the Maitland District Christian Association, which helped implement a teacher at Maitland High School to lead religious education.
He said the church was located in a great place. Fr Butterworth said people in-need had seen the spire of the building and come to ask for assistance and others had just dropped to say hello in while in-town.
Fr Butterworth has also seen changes throughout his time as a priest.
While he said church attendance numbers have declined, there was still a great interest in ministry across the dioceses and strong numbers of baptisms, weddings and funerals at the church.
“There is a healthy amount coming through,” he said.
Fr Butterworth said he was leaving the church in good hands with the new reverend.
“He’ll be a great asset to St Mary’s,” he said.
Fr Butterworth will retire to Gillieston Heights.
Source: Maitland Mercury