Clare Priory has appointed a new Prior, Father Stefan Park.
He succeeds Father Ian Wilson, who came to Clare in 2015 and who has taken up a new position at St Joseph’s in Edinburgh.
Father Stefan, a Glaswegian, worked in IT for many years before joining the Augustinian Order of Friars in 1992.
He was ordained as a priest in Edinburgh in 2001 and has previously served in Augustinian communities in Birmingham, Hammersmith, London and Carlisle. He has also worked as a parish priest in Ireland.
Clare Priory, founded in 1248, is the mother house for Augustinian friars throughout the English-speaking world.
Father Stefan, 67, whose father is Ukrainian and mother Polish, said: “I moved away from the faith as a teenager, reconnecting again in my mid-thirties.
“I worked as an IT specialist for many years before making a rather abrupt life change after rediscovering the reality of God and being introduced to the charismatic dimension of Christian life through the Community of the Risen Christ in Glasgow, and then the Antioch Community in Acton.”
After joining the Augustinian Community in London, he studied for a degree in London and spent a year in America as an Augustinian novice, followed by two more years studying for a Masters in pastoral theology.
“For the next three years, I taught religious education at Austin Friars School in Carlisle,” he added. “I loved it. It was the best possible training for priesthood.”
In 2008, he moved to London to establish a group producing candidates for religious life and priesthood.
He said: “As vocations director, I travelled widely, connecting with young people all over the UK and giving talks and retreats in the UK, Ireland and Europe.”
Father Stefan’s interests include reading, playing the guitar and piano “though not very well” and hill walking, cooking and sudoku.
His predecessor was a member of the Clare Priory community from July 1985 to October 1986, visiting schools and communities as the religious order’s vocations director before his appointment as Prior at Clare in July 2015.
The Priory was founded by the Hermit Friars of St Augustine and passed into private hands after Henry VIII dissolved priories of the Augustinian Order in 1538.
When the friars returned to Clare in 1953, they converted the 13th century infirmary into a small church, which, the following year, became the parish church for local Catholics.