Honorary Assistant Priest:
Canon Michael Hart (Father Michael)
Father Michael originates from Bolton, Lancashire, but came south to train for the Priesthood at Kings College, London, and St Augustine’s College, Canterbury. Between the two colleges he had a year teaching at Bacon’s Comprehensive School in Bermondsey and also acting as Pastoral Assistant at St Mary’s, Rotherhithe.
In 1973 he was Ordained Deacon and, a year later, Priest in Durham Cathedral. After serving a three year Curacy in Sunderland he was asked to be Curate for a further two years in Burnt Oak, Hendon, London. The first parish he served as Vicar was St Luke’s, Eltham Park in the Diocese of Southwark. It was an exciting seven years seeing a church which had been under the threat of closure move to be a lively and growing church.
The Bishop asked him in 1985 to move to the Elephant and Castle to become Rector of St Mary, Newington, and Priest in Charge of St Michael, Camberwell. Both congregations grew and a Vicar was eventually appointed for St Michael’s. During his time at the Elephant and Castle his interest in evangelism increased and he was asked to be Archdeaconry Adviser in Evangelism as well as Area Dean.
After eleven years at the Elephant and Castle he moved to the North Downs as Team Rector based at St Mary, Caterham. While at Caterham a Team Ministry was established covering five parishes staffed by four full-time clergy. Once again he also became Area Dean. One of the highlights of his time at Caterham was a Parish Mission led by Bishop Stephen Cottrell. In 2001 he was made an Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral, hence the red edged black cassock you will see him wearing!
In 2005 the Bishop made him Canon Missioner (for the Diocese) and Residentiary Canon at Southwark Cathedral. He greatly enjoyed both aspects of the work but found a split job difficult. In 2010 he returned to parish ministry as Team Rector of Catford (Southend) and Downham Team Ministry, where he worked with two Team Vicars and a Curate, based at St John the Baptist, Catford. It was a time of rich blessings serving the last five years before retirement in a multi cultural church, which doubled in size in five years.
After he retired, a wise priest suggested he rest from ministry for some months and attend various churches before receiving the Bishop's Permission to Officiate. Bishop Martin gave him PTO in September 2015 and he has found St Michael’s to be his new spiritual home.