A PARISH priest who arrived in the Barnsley area just before the miners’ strike and has spent his ministry reaching out to those in need, retired at the end of last month.
Fr Rodney Marshall, parish priest of St Helen’s Athersley and St John’s Carlton, has served Athersley for 20 years but arrived in the area in 1982 and found himself helping families in desperate need during the Miners Strike.
Picture courtesy of the Barnsley Chronicle
“It was a very difficult time for people, but it was a time when the community came together in a very real way,” he said.
“The church helped run a kitchen for struggling families, there were food vouchers for people.
“It was a turbulent time, but a very memorable time and I’d like to think we did what we could to help.”
“We as Christians have got to be able to show, in concrete terms, the love of God.
“And that means reaching out in practical ways to the local community; it brings a sacramental dimension to what we are doing,’ he added.
Following the experience of the strike and the hardship that followed, Fr Marshall founded the Romero Project in 2004, which provides a safety net for those who find themselves marginalised by society. Run from a centre attached to the church in Athersley, the project employs two members of staff and has a team of volunteers, many of whom have been helped out of a personal crisis by the Romero Project in the past.
Said Fr Rodney: “We’re not doing it because we’re do-gooders or bleeding-heart liberals. We’re doing it because it’s at the heart of the Christian gospels. God’s love needs to be incarnated in our communities.”
Fr Rodney, 71, was born in Manchester, he trained as an electrical engineer, and was ordained aged 30 in 1976. He served churches in the Manchester area before moving to Barnsley.
His wife Marilyn died last year, aged 64, he has two sons and two grandchildren. He plans to spend his retirement in the area.
Father Rodney and Caroline Parker of the Romero Centre featured as part of the book ‘John Sentamu’s Faith Stories’ published in 2013 after the Archbishop visited Rodney at the Centre a couple of years earlier. You can watch a short video of his faith story here: