Fr. Jim Allen’s Biography

Fr. Jim as a schoolboy:

Father Jim was born in Wigan on 26th October 1947, and spent the first six years of his life with his parents in Bude, in Cornwall, so that Dad could take up a teaching job.
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After the family, with the addition of Paul and Mark, moved up to Blackpool, where his father taught in the Assumption Primary School for two years, before moving to St John Vianney’s Primary School. Jim has a younger brother and his name is Adrian.

Fr. Jim with classmates at Underlay Hall:

At the tender age of eleven Father Jim went to the Junior Seminary at Thistleton for one term before the whole college moved to Underley Hall at Kirkby Lonsdale. His class were the first to go through the whole curriculum at Underley and were the first to do their “A” levels there. At eighteen Father Jim was moved to the Senior Seminary at Upholland and Stadied Philosophy and Theology for six years.

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Fr. Jim newly ordained (standing next to him is Fr. Bob Dewhurst):

On Sunday, 28th May 1972 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Bernard Foley.His first appointment as Assistant priest was with Father Michael Taylor at St Benedict’s, Mirehouse, Whitehaven. While he was there he served as hospital chaplain to the Westcumberland hospital. Also in the four years he was there a new Church was built, and he founded the “St Benedict’s Rugby Union Club”, which is still flourishing to this day. After four years he was moved to St Augustine’s in Preston and served there for two years, before entering the Royal Navy as a naval chaplain.

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In his twelve years of service in the Navy and the Royal Marines he served in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, the Artic Circle, the Falklands and many other places. He was in the Falklands just after the conflict finished and visited and served the Islanders,  the army, RAF and the many Navy ships down there.

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In fact he was in the Sheffield on the Gulf Patrol but left her in Gibraltar just before Easter 1982 so as to take Naval personell on the annual HCPT to Lourdes. As well as serving in many exotic places like the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, he served in shore establishments in England and Scotland, where he stayed for two years at the new entry place of HMS Raleigh and (then) Fisgard.

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He did a tour at HMS Sultan, Collingwood and Daedalus in the Gosport area. While he was in the navy he had many opportunities to sail and learn to navigate. There were many times he sailed in the Plymouth and Portsmouth areas. Some beautiful and natural inlets and good pubs were found all down that coast. Also while he served in Gibraltar he managed to learn to ski. I can hear you say “ski in Gibraltar”? he went with a party of army lads to Sierra Navada at the back of Granada. Fr Jim Say “It was one of the best things I ever said yes to and I am pleased to have learned to ski!”His last appointment in the Navy, before leaving early, was at HMS  Faslane on the west coast of Scotland the home of the Trident  submarines. Although when he served there it was the Polaris subs that were the deterent against the Soviet block. His final few months after Faslane were spent in HMS Drake in Plymouth. In 1990 He left the forces to go as an Itinerant priest in the USA for a year with the blessing of Bishop Brewer.

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In his year’s itinerancy fr. Jim worked in deprived areas in New Orleans, Washington DC, New York (Queens) and Boston. It was an eventful year but then he was recalled to this Diocese and served one year as an assistant in the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Preston. A year later he was appointed Parish Priest of St. Patrick’s on Barrow Island in Barrow-in-Furness. For the first 5 years he was parish priest and chaplain to the Shipyard. Over the years it changed from VICKERS to BAE Systems and the work force reduced from about 15000 to less than 5000. In his later service at St Patrick’s I was privileged to preside at an “Automatic Launch” of a naval ship.

You can see fr Jim here, with a beard, saying the prayers before Princess Royal launched “HMS Albion”.

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Later in Barrow he was asked by Bishop Brewer to be chaplain to the “Furness General Hospital” where he remained for 7 years before leaving to come to Carlisle. Fr jim arrived here at St Bede’s in July 2004 (last day of the summer term) to serve as your Parish Priest. He has been here nearly 6 years and in that time we have re-wired and decorated the Church, set up the Stewardship and had a Neo-Catechumenate catechesis. Please look at out evaluation form that we have sent to the Diocese which is part of “Fit for Mission”.

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