Canon Brendan Alger has retired after 21 years as Parish Priest of St Mary of the Isle, Douglas, Isle of Man.
The Friendly Face of the Catholic Church on the Isle of Man is how Mrs Sally Macfadyen described Canon Brendan Alger, during a This is your Manx Life screened production, shown at a very memorable dinner to celebrate the 75th birthday, and mark the retirement of the Canon.
Mrs Macfadyen, with her husband Air Marshal Ian Macfadyen, who is at present Governor Constable of Windsor Castle and a former Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, both spoke from Windsor about their time on the Island, and their friendship with Canon Alger.
The present Lieutenant Governor, Vice Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks, and his wife Lady Penny also contributed, with a very warm tribute to Canon Alger.
The Isle of Man Government was represented by the Hon Noel Cringle, President of Tynwald, and the Hon Tony Brown, Chief Minister of the Manx Government. Both spoke of friendship, co-operation and respect, and wished the Canon a long and happy retirement. President Cringle said later that he was thrilled that before the Canon retired, he became the first Catholic Priest to lead the prayers at the Church Service which precedes the Tynwald Ceremony. The service is an integral part of the annual Parliamentary gathering.
Canon Alger’s hobbies and holidays were illustrated with amusingly doctored photographic records, including the Alger Ancestry and holiday encounters.
There were also contributions from each Parish, St Mary of the Isle, St Joseph’s and St Anthony’s each giving a different picture of the Canon’s character and showing the love and respect in which he is held, in a very amusing way.
Bethlehem in South Africa, with links to St Mary’s was a reminder of the work and co-operation inspired by the Canon.
Holding the Red Book and giving a fascinating commentary was Judith Ley, Religious Affairs correspondent of Manx Radio.
This unique documentary coverage of the Canon’s Manx Life was received with laughter, affection and gratitude by all present, including Bishop Tom Williams, all the Island Priests, the Canon’s brothers, Paul, and Deacon Desmond Alger and his wife Maureen, parishioners and friends and most importantly, Canon Brendan himself.
It was a perfect day which had begun most fittingly with a concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving, with Bishop Tom as Chief Celebrant, and finished with a memorable, happy evening.
On Sunday 9 January 2011 Canon Alger celebrated his last Mass as Parish Priest and Dean of the Isle of Man, at St Anthony’s in Onchan, with Fr Philip Gillespie (soon to be Canon Gillespie) Concelebrating with him. Welcoming Fr Philip and handing over the keys of the Parish to him, Canon Alger received a standing ovation from the packed church. Later in the morning, Fr Gillespie celebrated his first Mass as Parish Priest at St Mary’s, with the Canon concelebrating with him. Once again, both Priests received very warm applause.