THE longest-serving cleric in Wales retired last weekend – and celebrated with a good luck message from TV’s Mrs Brown.
More than 350 people attended Canon Graham Francis’ last service at the St Mary the Virgin church in Butetown on Saturday.
Canon Francis was ordained deacon in 1970 and served as curate of the Parish of Cowbridge from 1970 until 1976, until he then became Vicar of Penrhiwceiber in 1976.
He has spent the past 40 years as a vicar, making him the longest serving cleric in Wales. He spent 26 years in Penrhiwceiber and the past 14 years serving the diocese of Llandaff until his retirement.
“The service was lovely,” said Canon Francis. “It was nice to see so many people send their well-wishes.”
Parish member Eleanor Williams arranged for Brendan O’Carroll, star of Mrs Brown’s Boys, to record a message while dressed as Mrs Brown.
“One of the ladies who comes to St Mary’s asked Brendan if he could record a message about my retirement,” said Canon Francis, “at the end of the ceremony we all turned round to the screen at the back and there it was.”
Canon Francis plans to stay active with the church in his retirement and take up an assistant role at the St Saviour church, Splott.
Canon Francis said: “I’ll be helping out there in my retirement but it won’t be as busy as what I’m used to. The biggest challenge right now is trying to move out all our stuff. We’re allow to stay in the vicarage for a month so it’s trying to move all our stuff out.
“The place here is big you see, so it’s going to take some time moving but we’re downsizing to a smaller location in Splott now. I’ve lived in Cardiff for a long time now and I definitely see it as my home.”
Canon Francis said while he does not have any immediate plans for his retirement, he does want to go on holiday with his wife Eleri.
Francis said: “I’m not sure where we will go but we will be going away soon.”