HUNDREDS of people packed into St Vincent De Paul RC Church in Knutsford on Sunday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordination of parish priest, Father John Joyce.

Among those attending the special mass taken by Father Joyce were relatives from Ireland and representatives of all the parishes in which he has served.

The mass was attended by about 500 people, which was followed by a reception and lunch in a marquee in the church car park enjoyed by about 450 guests.

“I enjoyed the welcome given to the visitors and there was a very warm and hospitable feeling among the congregation – I witnessed Knutsford at its best,” said Father Joyce.

Among the guests were Knutsford Town Mayor Clr Neil Forbes and his wife, consort Jacquelyn Forbes, and representatives from St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School in Knutsford and St Nicholas Catholic High School in Hartford, where Father Joyce is a governor.

"The last 40 years seems like five minutes, and it makes you wonder where all the time has gone,” said Father Joyce.

“It has been a wonderful and exciting journey, and at times a challenging one.”

Father Joyce has been at St Vincent De Paul for 13 years, and was ordained priest for the Diocese of Shrewsbury in Shrewsbury Cathedral on July 13, 1974.