Father Michael John Harvey

Father Michael John 1952 - 1988

Harvey Father Michael Harvey came to North Town in 1982.  He was a young, tall good looking priest with an attractive outgoing personality.

Then, in 1986 the Sanctuary Floor around the Altar began to collapse. This was the part of the church which had been extended eastwards over an old boiler house as part of the 1964 Completion Scheme. Now natural subsidence had caused the hard core used to fill in the old boiler room to shift badly. A lesser man than Michael would have settled for running repairs to the Sanctuary Floor but Michael believed that Life's misfortunes present Life's opportunities.  So he conceived not merely running repairs but a complete reordering of the Church, complete redecoration and a refurbishment of the Sanctuary.

It was a bold ambitious plan that had reached the detailed planning stage in 1987 when Michael contracted Cancer. He died the following year - leaving a wife and two young children. He was 36 years old. North Town mourned as North Town has rarely mourned.

But Michael’s dream was not abandoned. His successor Father Keith Hodges master minded its implementation. It included a new modern altar and altar rails. These, as if to cock a snoot at the enormous American Pitch Pine Pillars were built in good old English oak and English sycamore. It was all duly completed with a Mass of Thanksgiving at which the Bishop of Guildford officiated on Jan 19th 1992. The ‘ poor and remote part of the Parish ‘ had come a long way from the little tin Church of 1880.

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The following is a letter sent by Fr. Harvey to the parishioners before his induction

The Vicarage,

Dear Friends,

As I write this still five days before the Induction. It is Sunday morning and I sit at my desk watching those of you who have been to the 8 a.m. Eucharist pass by my window. Even though we don't know anything about each other I begin to feel at home. We have settled into the Vicarage and with all our furniture around us things begin' to look familiar and homely. We have also had a couple of brief visits to your church and enjoyed the beauty of your Floral Festival. For those of you we have met, thank you for your welcome. One particular item which makes me feel at home is the stone of St. Augustine’s Abbey that you have in your church, I spent a year at St. Augustine’s Canterbury, after University, where I trained for the Ministry. We also feel at home because we are moving into another Christian family, and we share that common life in Christ - brothers and sisters together.

I take this opportunity of thanking-- Alec and Mick, and their wives Hilda and Patsy, for helping us in so many ways both before and since our move. I could say much more, but a simple 'thank you' is enough.

I want to express three themes which 1 hope will be abiding attitudes for us at St. Augustine’s as we worship and work together in the coming months, no doubt they are attitudes which you practice anyway but to remind ourselves of them will not be amiss.

We shall need to listen to each other. Listening is a great gift. It is often not what .we say but how we listen that can be so constructive. Having a new priest can be a worrying time for a parish, and working in a new parish can be a worrying time for the priest. Whatever happens and where ever we go in the future I hope that we can go together. We can do this best if we listen to each other, and above all spend time listening to God. There is no substitute for time spent quietly in God's presence.

We shall also need to laugh. From the little I have seen of you there seems to be plenty of laughter. I am sure that laughter is close to the heart of God. When things get difficult or mundane let us laugh, laugh at ourselves, laugh with each other and laugh with God. I do net mean superficial laughter, but a laughter and joy which has its source in God.

And of course we shall need to know the great Christian theme of love. We receive the deep love of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. May our love for Our Lord and each other grow each day. And may this love spill out of our Church and into our parish.

There is much ahead of us. I confess that I don't know what it is, but we must go ahead in faith. I have the feeling that if we can listen to, laugh with, and love, both God and each other, then the future will hold many unexpected and exciting things.

I look forward to meeting you all at Church and in your homes.

Father Michael.

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Written and performed by Father Michael Harvey for the Harvest Supper

When I was a lad
I went to see 
The mighty Bishop 
of  the Guildford See. 
He said to me there's a parish in my care
We need an idiot that we can spare 
I said• my Lord
I'll be quite pleased 
to be a vicar 
in this Diocese. 
And then he said with a worried frown
It’s Saint Augustine's in North Town. 

When I was the Vicar 
I went to see 
Alec and Mick 
and the P.C.C. 
They said to me don't take us to Rome 
Or we'll put you on your bike and send you home
I said but please 
I love the Pope 
Candles,  bells and lots of smoke. 
But they all said with a worried frown
This is Saint Augustine's in North Town. 

Now I am the Vicar 
I want to be 
The man in charge
of the P.C.C. 
They said to each other he's got to go
We’ll kick him out on his elbow. 
I said but please 
Kick out Rite B 
I want a new Liturgy. 
But they all said with a worried frown
This is Saint Augustine's in North Town. 

The problem is
it seems to me 
You really can't win
with the P.C.C. 
The Vicar's too fast or he's much too slow
He's much too High or he's much too low. 
And he gives us all 
a lot of stick 
about being Catholic. 
But they all said with a worried frown
This is Saint Augustine's in North Town. 

And now my dears
A little tease 
Please spend more time
on your knees. 
This ain't a local Bowling Club
But a church where we worship God.
So dirty your hands 
and work with me 
this is my only plea. 
But they all said with a worried frown
This is Saint Augustine's in North Town. 



Institution Order of Service Cover

The Funeral Mass Order of Service Cover


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