A GLOBE-TROTTING priest has celebrated his golden jubilee at his old Feltham parish.
Father Gerry Burke marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination earlier this month at St Lawrence's Church, where he was the parish priest for more than a decade before retiring last year.
The 75-year-old's calling has taken him across the world, with stints everywhere from Australia to South Africa, where he taught for two years.
But Feltham – a stone's throw from his birthplace of Ruislip – is where he spent his last years in the profession and the place he continues to call home.
Father Gerry, who lives in Mill Way, celebrated his 50th anniversary by taking mass at his old on March 13 before joining members of the congregation for a party in St Lawrence's School Hall.
"I've enjoyed the last 50 years but working as a priest in St Lawrence's was the best way to end my active life," he said. "The people here are lovely. They've been so supportive and loving."
Father Gerry spent seven years studying in Rome, where he was ordained in 1960. He first worked as a priest in Parsons Green, followed by spells in Marylebone, Barnet and as chaplain to Gumley House School, in Isleworth, where many of the fathers were old school mates.
He later spent 15 years running a training agency for the church, a job which took him to Kenya, Canada and many more far-flung destinations, before returning to England and St Lawrence's.
He helped foster a thriving community during his time at the church, where attendance at weekend masses regularly tops 1,000 and is continuing to grow under the new parish priest, Father Chris Vipers.