A RUNCORN funeral director has become a Catholic priest.

Fr Paul Vianney, aged 33, was ordained at St Edward’s Church in Ivy Street by Tom Williams, auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool.

Hundreds of parishioners joined his family and friends for the celebration.

Liverpool-born Fr Vianney, who was also a church organist, has worked in Runcorn for the past 10 years.

He said: “I feel very privileged working with the people of Runcorn. They are very close to my heart.

“It has become my adopted home.

“The ordination was a very beautiful, moving ceremony.

“It was very humbling.”

He has spent the past seven years studying theology and philosophy and has joined a missionary order, The Society of the Divine Saviour, popularly know as the Salvatorians.

Formerly known as Paul Harris, he has taken the name of St John Vianney as his patron. He said: “Ever since I was a child, I have felt a calling to ministerial work.

“I am a convert to Catholicism from the Protestant denomination.”

He said his former job looking after bereaved families has a lot in common with his new ministry.

He added: “Moving from one side of the altar to the other, you are meeting people at the worse points of their life. You try and shoulder their load.

“The life of a priest is full of ups and downs. You might arrange a funeral and then meet with a family who want their newly born baby baptised or a couple getting married.

“I’m a very people-centred person. This is a ministry of service.”

He expects to be appointed to a parish in London in September.