THE P RTAL February 2018 Page 7 The St Barnabas Society Jackie Ottaway and Ronald Crane meet Fr Paul Martin, the new Director of the Society W e made our way to the St Barnabas Society premises on the outskirts of Oxford. It was once an Anglican Vicarage. The new Director is Fr Paul Martin, a dear friend for many years. Settled in his comfortable drawing room, we asked him to tell us a little about himself. Fr Paul began, “I live here. My Anglican background was largely in South Wales. I was born in Barry and grew up in Newport. My father was a dock pilot in Newport. After school I went to St David’s University College and intended to read English but ended up reading theology. Two years at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and I was ordained an Anglican Deacon in 1981 and served at St Mary’s in Monmouth. I was ordained priest in 1982. After a curacy just outside Cardiff I spent four years as one of the Assistant Secretaries of the Additional Curates Society. After ACS, I went back to Newport as Vicar, before two years as a Chaplain with the Royal Navy in Devonport, then at the Submarine base at Faselane. While there, I went on retreat to Iona. On that retreat I made the decision to become Roman Catholic. It was something I had been thinking about “I was ordained in 1998 and sent to be a hospital for a long time. It started in my early teens and never chaplain in Wolverhampton. I lived in the parish of really went away. Corpus Christi, Ashmore Park. After eleven months I “The crunch moment came when I met Pope John was the parish priest. After three and a half years I was Paul II for the first time. I was standing in the Audience asked to go to the Sacred Heart, Tunstall, Stoke-on- Hall with all these people from all over the world. I Trent. A short while later Archbishop Vincent Nichols remember thinking that I believe what these people asked me to go to Bicester. I spent ten years there. It believe but I am not in communion with the guy up was challenging, but for most part, a happy time. My there in a white cassock. I knew at that moment that next appointment was at Our Lady at Caversham. there was going to come a point when I would make “At the tail end of my time there, we redecorated the that journey. Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham. My plan was to “I came out of the Royal Navy and worked as a promote it as a place of pilgrimage. The original shrine funeral director in Newport. It was going to take was destroyed in 1538 and all trace of it was destroyed. time to consider if I was going to offer myself for the There is even debate about where it was located. The priesthood, and if God wanted me to be a Catholic work was completed and I was able to celebrate mass priest then he had to shout. He did shout through in the chapel before I left. On May 6 th the Archbishop will bless it. other people. “I was asked to apply for this present job, and after an “Whilst at Faselane I had met Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville when he came to visit. I wrote and interview they offered me the job. asked if I could come and see him. “My ministry here began on 1st October last year. “He sent me to Oscott for two years. Two years I am still getting my feet under the table. One of the at Oscott was an interesting experience. Strange in rewarding sides to this job is being able to reconnect many ways, particularly finding yourself back in a with people from my past who have made the conversion journey themselves. Simon Beverage, in classroom.