A JAPANESE priest has made history by becoming the first to take part in a symbolic ceremony on the Fylde coast.
After moving to Bispham as a 17-year-old, Masaki Narasawa has followed a devout Christian lifestyle by helping others in Blackpool.
For the past eight years, Father Narasawa has worked closely with the congregation of St Paul’s, Marton, helping the homeless, children, adults and the sick in his long association with the Honister Avenue church.
However, to realise his dream of taking part in an ordinariate ceremony, Father Narasawa, 58, had to leave St Paul’s behind for a new beginning at St Bernadette’s Catholic Church, Bispham.
The ordinariate was established last year by Pope Benedict XVI and allows Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic church.
Father Narasawa was joined by 12 bishops, including the Bishop of Lancaster Michael Campbell, at the ceremony.
Father Narasawa said: “This is something I really wanted to do and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to take part in this unique service.
“I try to live as Catholic a life as possible in the church and now it’s been made possible for me to follow my Anglican beliefs as well.
“I saw this service as a real opportunity for me and one I couldn’t miss.”
Father Narasawa, from Tokoyo, says he now hopes other will follow his lead by investing time and their faith in the ordinariate.
He added: “It was very strange to move congregations, but the welcome I’ve received is marvellous.
“I’ve been really touched by everyone’s generosity and I hope everything continues to go smoothly at St Bernadette’s.”
Father Stephen Pearson, parish priest at St Bernadette’s said the ceremony was an “uplifting experience”.
He added: “It was a very special day.
“The ceremony itself was poignant, beautiful and very moving.
“There were 10 priests from all across Blackpool present on the day and I think everyone concerned saw it as a very uplifting experience.”