Tuesday 20 March 2018

Priest whose 'affair' rocked church to wed mother of five

Sean Page with his bride-to-be, mother-of-five
Clarice Young
Sean Page with his bride-to-be, mother-of-five Clarice Young
A young Fr Page and his late mother meeting Pope John Paul in Rome

Fergus Black

SEAN Page officiated at more than his fair share of weddings during his 12 years as a priest.

But when he ties the knot at his own wedding, he will be "like a barman on the other side of the counter", he joked yesterday.

More than a decade after leaving the priesthood in a blaze of publicity, the 53-year-old, from Castlerea, Co Roscommon, will this weekend marry his partner, divorcee and mother-of-five Clarice Young (47) in a simple Church of England ceremony near their home in Heywood, Lancashire.

"This will be the start of a new awareness for me. The fact that somebody would have enough trust in me to marry me and to take on my name is a huge vote of confidence," Mr Page, who is now a social worker, told the Irish Independent.

The former curate in St Anne's parish in Sligo hit the headlines more than a decade ago after he chose to leave his celibate life behind him and move into a house with a mother of seven. That was, he admits, a relationship that was doomed to failure and after his controversial affair hit the headlines, he turned his back on Sligo and moved to Britain.

He told how he had to "reinvent" himself, to find work and somewhere to live. Years later, he met Clarice after making contact on an online dating website.

Ironically as both made plans for their wedding on Saturday, the Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones, wrote to Mr Page, asking that his position in the Catholic Church should now be "regularised".

"I notice you have been making the headlines again recently," wrote Dr Jones.

"Sean, I would be grateful if you would write me a letter requesting laicisation. It is important, in the interests of all concerned, that your situation in relation to the church be regularised."

As he prepared to walk down the aisle, Mr Page said his ordination as a priest had certainly not been wasted.

"I still have a Christian faith," he said.

But he remained a strong opponent of celibacy, saying he that did not see any point to it.

"I couldn't stay in the church and feel like a normal person. When you see all the clerical child sex-abuse scandals that have hit the church, my situation is nothing in comparison."

Following their wedding, the happy couple plan a simple buffet reception with a DJ in a local pub before travelling to Ireland, where they will spend a few days in Dublin and Galway.

Irish Independent

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