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Celebrating 25 years with Father Philip

The June meeting of the Mothers’ Union was a ‘celebration tea’ to celebrate  Fr Phillip’s 25 years in charge of All Saints Porthcawl.

We started with a short service at 2.30pm. Sue Coughlin welcomed everyone, then a hymn, the Mothers’ Union prayer, followed by a lovely eulogy (with humour) by Hannah Jones telling us of Fr Phillip’s time at All Saints. Fr Phillip said prayers and then we all trooped off to the church hall for a sumptuous tea of   sandwiches, cakes and tea.

As well as Mothers’ Union members, people from Churches Together and other organisations attended. It was also nice to see Fathers Jonathan and Craig again. Maria, Hannah’s daughter, made a wonderful anniversary cake and Fr Jonathan gave a toast.

Fr Phillip thanked everyone and I would also like to thank everyone for putting on such a wonderful show.

Sue Coughlin

Here is the full text of Hannah Jones’s eulogy celebrating Fr Philip’s 25 years in Porthcawl.

“I have been asked as a member of Newton Nottage Mothers’   Union to say a few words. Although the subject matter is very much alive – hopefully not kicking- I have called these words an Eulogy, the dictionary definition of which is a “speech or written testimony greatly praising a person”.

I’m reminded of the line from Ecclesiasticus 44 – “Let us praise  famous men and our father…….” So for you, Reverend Canon Philip Masson, our Father Philip – or “Farphil “ as my grandson calls you, these words are for you, as we acknowledge and give thanks for your 25 years here in the Parish of Newton Nottage Porthcawl.

Before I ever met Father Philip, I met his wife Maggie. It was at a study day for nurses in Bridgend. Being impressed by this lady I enquired her name and on being told that it was Masson, bells rang. They say that behind every good man is a good woman, I thought, if this is MRS Masson, the man she is married to will surely be good for us as our Rector.”

A week or so later, on May 8th 1992, we assembled here in All Saints (a bit like being in the Upper Room) when there was a loud knocking on the North door of the church. Each rap signified one year – it was Father Philip arriving for induction/installation and letting us know how many years he expected to serve in the    Parish. I cannot remember how many times he knocked, can you Father? So far it has proven to be 25 and he is still with us!

What can I say about this man? Something which comes to mind is “he does not suffer fools gladly” BUT if you need him, if you   really need him, he is with you, so kind, caring, compassionate – alongside you all the way.

So many people have said this of him and I am sure that many of you here today will have your own stories of how he has featured in your lives – whether visiting in hospital or at home, at times of worry, sadness or grief and of his involvement in organisations such as LATCH, for children with cancer and as Chaplain of the Porthcawl RNLI, where he brings comfort and support to the     suffering and the crew members in their often harrowing experiences. I know that his presence with them is much appreciated.

He is a family man and as such can relate to the families of this town – recalling the personal sadness in the loss of Baby Rhys   during their early years in Porthcawl. As I said before, behind every good man there is a good woman – in Father Philip’s case, SIX of them. Not only his wife Maggie but daughters Elen, Angharad,   Bethan, Catrin and Ffion. I am awaiting publication of a Brontë -style novel entitled “The Rectory Girls”. They’ve been with us for so much of the past 25 years and their ready smiles and cheery greetings have endeared them to us.

Father Philip is, of course, full of fun. Who could deny this when you see him on Christmas morning dressed for the Coney Beach Swim in weird, non-clerical clothing, encouraged by his daughters for an icy dip? All for the benefit of charity.

He’s an intrepid traveller, braving the dens of Paris to watch the rugby and travelling to Cornwall to walk his dog along the Camel Trail. He once even took on the role of Mothers’ Union Enrolling Member. I’m not sure that it afforded him much joy but at least he kept the branch going until the next leader took over.

We were somewhat disappointed that he was not chosen as the next Bishop of Llandaff but at least there will be a woman in the job!…and who knows she may be (probably is) a member of   Mothers’ Union. Of course the post of Archbishop of Wales is still open – the Electoral college meets tomorrow so who knows?!

The spiritual side of Father Philip’s ministry in the Parish is very special to us. We experienced the beautiful, uplifting services he prepared for us to participate in at Eastertide with the message for all of Love, Peace and Hope. We are so well blessed to have Father Philip as our Parish Priest and serving in this town of Porthcawl. To borrow a lifeboat term, we feel safe with him at the helm.

We extend to you, Father Philip, Maggie and the girls, our deep   affection and our sincere and genuine thanks to you and to God for your ministry here. We pray for your continued presence with us – for the next ten years at least! Thank you.

Dr. Hannah Jones