Fr Mark Harold was born in Salford in 1967 and grew up in the Parish of Ss Peter & Paul. He went to school at St Lawrence's, Weaste. He went to the junior seminary at Upholland then to Leeds Trinity University to study Theology before going to The Venerable English College in Rome.
He was ordained at an open air Mass at Ss Peter & Paul on 15th July 1995. We have the full story from the Ss Peter & Paul's Salford Fortieth Anniversary Magazine 1996
Parochial Holiday by Rita Stuart.
Spirits were high in anticipation of the great day which had been discussed and looked forward to for three or four months by most, and for years by some.
A young man in the parish was to be ordained a priest. Many of us had known him as a small child, and with interest, had watched his progress, in the fine art of growing up. When he left college for university to read theology, it was a sort of 'Make your mind up' time and we were all delighted to hear that on completion of his degree, he was to continue his studies for the priesthood in Rome.
The big day was on its way. After a spring clean, flower arranging, an influx of extra chairs, we were ready. Our parish priest decided on a marquee in the grounds, partly in case of inclement weather, and to accommodate the four hundred relatives and friends likely to be present at the ordination on the Saturday afternoon, and again on the Sunday morning for the celebration of the first Mass.
Blue skies and sunshine greeted the day. Students from Rome were in rehearsal for the choir; the Sanctuary contained seating for the bishop, sixty priests and six altar servers.
Fourteen chalices and seven ciboria decked the altar and offertory table; the gold, brass and silver shone; the guests were beginning to arrive; it was like a wedding; many ladies wore large hats and elegant suits or dresses. There was an air of quiet excitement amongst the increasing congregation. Then, the music heralded the procession of bishop and priests from the house across the freshly mown lawn, to the church. The altar boys came first bearing the cross and the thurible; never had they looked so right! Their albs fitted, and they all wore black shoes: there were over fifty priests and the bishop in ceremonial dress. What a splendid sight it was, to see them in our Sanctuary. Mark and his mum, who had been ill for three years and brought from hospital for the great occasion, were in the front row with his father, sisters and brothers; Mark was waiting to be called.
The Mass began and after the Gospel, the ordination rite took place. Mark was called forward and our parish priest presented him to the bishop for ordination. After the laying of hands, vesting and anointing, the bishop requested the new priest to go to his mother and anoint her. This was most moving for the whole congregation; we were one large family and the Holy Spirit of joy and happiness radiated within the church in harmony with sunshine, blue skies and floral blooms,
We had a new priest - Father Mark.
The Mass continued and with the usual efficiency of clerical Organisation, everyone received Communion in a relatively short time.
After the ceremony, tea and biscuits were to be served in the marquee, but what do you think happened? The electrics in the marquee failed - -there was no boiling water! In the quietest commotion ever known, a second plan was put into operation. Crates of drinks were procured from the bar stock; pans were put on hot plates on the cooker, kettles of water were quickly boiled - extra tea was made in the kitchen, whilst fuses were changed in plugs in the marquee, and by some miracle, everyone was. served with beverage of some sort, quite oblivious of our dilemma.
The next morning was Father Mark's first Mass. There was the usual preparation of the Sanctuary; there were fewer priests but more people - they were standing in the porch. The highlight was Father Mark himself.
The music and singing were magnificent. The sermon given by one of Father Mark's-friends included the story of the cricket ball hitting Father Mark in the face during a match . "Yes, he had two holes in his face; one was his mouth!" he said humorously, "and the other where the ball had hit him required twelve stitches, and within the hour, this tall bandaged figure strolled back onto the field to resume his position as backstump! - Mark never hurried - he's a brave lad - very brave!" he repeated.
As the last hymn was being sung, the final touches were being put to the tea-making, soft drinks, bar drinks and eats'.
It was our family party with our new priest. There were congratulations all round to Mum (yes, she had come again from hospital, for the first Mass!), Dad, family and Father Mark himself. Photographs were taken, and people then sauntered into the marquee. When there was no more seating accommodation, they sat outside on chairs, benches, the grass. What a wonderful family gathering it was. As soon as Father Mark came into the marquee, there was a standing ovation and everyone set out to enjoy the party.
There were melon starters, rolls galore,
Fresh green salads, rice, coleslaw,
Scotch eggs; salmons dressed in splendour
Raised duck pie; who was the sender?
Pizzas, quiches, sausage rolls,
Turkey, drumsticks , salmon rolls,
Game pie, pork pie, pate, flans,
Varied sandwiches, beef and hams.
Pasta salads, Waldorf, bean,
Assorted vegetable, fit for a queen!
Attractive savories, condiments too,
Cheddar, Stilton and Dorset Blue.
Fruit in baskets, large and small,
Congratulations to you all.
Trifles, fresh fruit salads, scones,
Cakes and gateaux, mousse in domes,
The good Lord did together us bind,
In our display of a 'Jacob's Find'.
What a week-end for the parish on holiday!
After his ordination he was appointed to St Mary’s, Radcliffe and St Cuthbert, Withington, as curate. From 1999 to 2008 he was Parish Priest at St Gabriel, Castleton which merged with St John the Baptist Rochdale from 2004 after Fr Molloy’s departure. In 2008 he was appointed Vice Rector of the Venerable English College, Rome, as Vice Rector returning to England in 2016 to become parish priest at St Mary, Bamber Bridge. He was the first secular Priest in charge at Bamber Bridge following the resignation of the Benedictines. After the retirement of Mgr Corcoran in 2018 he was appointed Dean of St John Southworth Deanery.
- Ss Peter & Paul's Salford Fortieth Anniversary Magazine 1996
- Catholic Lancashire, Past and Present
- 1995 photos: the Harold family.