Tributes paid to popular priest

Fr Lawrence Jones, who died on Monday.
Fr Lawrence Jones, who died on Monday.

Parishioners will have the opportunity to pay their respects to Morpeth priest Father Lawrence Jones following his death on Monday.

The 53-year-old’s body will be received into St Robert’s Church in Oldgate – he had served there since September 2009 – on Monday at 7pm, followed by Mass.

Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the Right Rev Seamus Cunningham, will celebrate his Requiem Mass on Tuesday from noon at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle. This will be followed by a burial at St Robert’s.

Rev Cunningham said: “Fr Lawrence was a wonderful priest, larger than life in every way.

“He will be sorely missed by his parishioners and his brother priests.”

During his time in Morpeth, Fr Lawrence successfully led a fund-raising project to make the church bells sound again and he also led a week-long pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

A restoration of the church took place after a fire broke out in the church sacristy in 2012. Parishioners were invited to share facilities at St George’s United Reformed Church in Bridge Street for a three-month period.

Rev Ron Forster, Minister of St George’s, said: “Fr Lawrence was a great man and he will be a big miss in Morpeth.

“We have worked alongside each other on numerous occasions through the Morpeth Churches Together initiative and I considered him a good friend.”

Fr Lawrence formally began his religious studies at Upholland Junior seminary, before transferring at the age of 18 to Ushaw College in County Durham, where he was ordained by Bishop Swindlehurst in St Cuthbert’s Chapel on June 21, 1986, as one of two priests that summer for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

His first posting was as a curate to St Peter’s Church in Low Fell, Gateshead, and his first spell as a parish priest was at English Martyrs in Stockton on Tees, where he stayed for 10 years and served at North Tees General Hospital.

Following a sabbatical year abroad (August 2004 to September 2005) , the priest was sent to St Cuthbert’s in Kenton, Newcastle. He moved to Morpeth four years later.