Our Parish Priest
Dom Martin Gowman OSB joined the Benedictines in 1997, was ordained deacon in 2006 and became a priest in 2007.
Fr Martin was a teacher of music and modern languages before taking the three Benedictine vows of stability, obedience and conversion of life, first with the French Benedictines of Ligugé and Sainte-Marie (Paris) and then at Downside in 2005. He assisted in local parishes affiliated with the Abbey in Somerset before being sent to East Anglia in 2011.
Enduring links between Beccles, Gillingham and Downside were affirmed when the parish was visited by Abbot Aidan Bellenger, who conferred Confirmation for our candidates in 2012, and by Dom Leo Maidlow-Davis (Prior-Administrator, 2014-8) who supported the Parish Renewal Programme of 2017-8.
Fr Martin continues as our priest for the time being, while the parish transfers to the Diocese of East Anglia.
The office of Deacon has existed since the earliest days of the Church but lapsed for many years before being restored in 1967 following the Second Vatican Council. The role enables mature men, married or unmarried, to be ordained as members of the clergy and to work with Bishops and Priests in the service of the church.
Rev Tony Felton, who was ordained in 1996, maintains the diaconal ministries of proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, and service in the parish.
Rev Tony celebrated his silver anniversary as a Deacon in June 2021. As a professional accountant, he is a long-standing and highly-valued member of the parish Finance and Fabric Committee, combined with an active ministry at the altar and the lectern.
For the Diocese, Rev Tony administers the St Edmund’s Fund through the Commission for Social Concern – Caritas East Anglia. Tony was married to Jackie (Ϯ2006) who worked for many years in the parish as School Secretary, in the days when St Benet’s School was served by Parish Sisters.
As these notes were being written, Rev Mike Wells died on 13 October 2021. Rev Mike was ordained in 1991 and gave more than thirty years’ service as Deacon to St Benet’s.
Rev Mike was a Chartered Surveyor by profession and, prior to his ordination, was entrusted by Abbot Aelred Watkin (Parish Priest 1975-89) with the administration of the church grounds.
Although wheelchair-bound during his later years, Mike continued his ministry with the Finance and Fabric Committee and in St Benet’s on Sunday mornings, remaining active, mobile and instantly recognisable through his untiring help at the back of the church.
Rev Mike was married to Hilary who remains as organist of St Benet’s, supported by our small choir whose members are now singing again – after more than a year of silence during Covid 19.