Ian Hatfield, a deacon at a Norwich church, was honored with a thanksgiving Mass and celebration after dedicating over 30 years of service to Catholic communities across the city. Hatfield, originally from Belfast, moved to Norwich with his family in 1967 and became a parishioner at Holy Apostle Parish in West Earlham. He was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on May 25, 1991, and served as one of the two Assistant Directors of the Permanent Diaconate for 14 years. In April 2004, he moved to St. George’s Parish, where he faithfully served for the past 20 years, leading retreats, prayer groups, and giving talks in the parish, as well as ministering to parishioners in various settings and participating in daily religious services. The Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Fr Andrew Eburne, who stood in for Bishop Peter Collins, and Fr Walter Chenyika, the priest in charge of St. George’s parish.
In his address, Hatfield expressed his gratitude for the friendships he had made and the appreciation for his sermons and prayers. He also acknowledged the commitment of his wife, Meda, who served as a catechist for the children and was dedicated to catechesis and forming children. Hatfield also highlighted the loss of his daughter in 2012 and his wife in 2018, acknowledging the continuation of life and the support of his surviving daughters and their families, as well as the friendships he has in the parish, the diocese, and beyond. The Mass was followed by a celebration in the church hall at St. George’s, where Hatfield was joined by his daughter, her husband, former parish priest Fr Sean Connolly, and parishioners.
The event was well attended and served as a tribute to Hatfield’s long and dedicated service to the Catholic communities in Norwich. His commitment to ministry, as well as his personal losses, were acknowledged and celebrated during the Mass of Thanksgiving and the subsequent celebration, reflecting the impact he has had on the community throughout his years of service. Hatfield’s words of gratitude and acknowledgment of his loved ones and friends demonstrated the deep connections he has formed throughout his years of service.