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I was born nearly 60 years ago in Solihull hospital (at that time in Warwickshire), to parents Catherine and Patrick Peyton (both from Co Mayo), the youngest of 4 children.

 

I was baptised at Sacred Heart and Holy Souls church, Acocks Green. I was later to receive First Confession, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and priestly ordination all in this church. I attended Holy Souls primary school until aged 11, and then went to a small independent school- Wylde Green College for boys in Sutton Coldfield, completing my secondary education at Solihull Sixth Form College. I studied chemistry at Birmingham University, completing a doctorate in 1989 which was funded by the “Cancer Research Campaign.”

 

I worked for more than 13 years in Research and Development for British Industrial Plastics (BIP Ltd), a company based in Oldbury. The firm produced resins for coatings and paper and textiles. My work was to try and make our products less environmentally damaging by using non-toxic raw materials. During my time at BIP, both my parents passed away (dad in 1991 and mum in 2001). After my mother’s death, I began to think more deeply about the priesthood. I had thought about it when I was much younger, and never really given up the idea. I now felt I was entering a new chapter of my life.

When I was 9 years old, I joined the Junior Legion of Mary at Holy Souls. I seem to remember my brother saying that if I came to the Junior Legion with him, he would take me down Villa Park the next day. My brother has a lot to answer for! The Legion was to be, and still is, a major influence in my life.

 

When I was trying to discern whether God was calling me to the priesthood, I felt I needed to be clear that I wasn’t just interested in working as a priest because it had so often been suggested to me. It was also possible that I had a vocation to the Lay Apostolate- like the Legion’s founder the Servant of God Frank Duff. This was where the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that was being organised at St Dunstan’s at that time was an invaluable help to me. I had a place on the weekly rota- Wednesday evenings 9pm to 10pm was my slot. I would go and pour out my heart to the Lord, and I believe that he gradually guided me to submit myself to the Church, to allow the Church to discern my vocation.

During those years, I was active in the Legion of Mary in St Paul’s Kings Norton. I was also in touch with Legion members in both St Dunstan’s and St Jude’s. So I believe that all these parishes were instrumental in bringing me to where I am today. Seminary formation took the form for me of 1 year in the Royal English College, Valladolid, Spain and 4 years at the Beda in Rome. I was ordained deacon at St Paul’s-outside-the-Walls basilica in Rome on June 15th., 2007 and priest in my home parish, Sacred Heart and Holy Souls, Acocks Green, on July 19th., 2008.

 

My first appointment as priest was as assistant priest in St Patrick’s Dudley Road, and chaplain to the City Hospital. In 2010, Archbishop Bernard asked me to become parish priest of St Thomas More’s, Sheldon. I spent 10 very happy if busy years there, even though it was the heart of Birmingham City territory!

 

In the middle of lock-down, September 2020, I moved to the Parishes of St John the Evangelist and St Joseph the Worker, Banbury. My stay in Oxfordshire was to be shorter, just 3 years.

 

As I outlined in my early homilies in St Dunstan’s and St Jude’s, I feel a passion in me to help people get to know God- a gift, I feel, from my involvement with the Legion of Mary. Inspired by my namesake, the now Venerable Patrick Peyton (the famous Rosary priest but no relation as far as I am aware), I am trying to promote family prayer. Fr Patrick Peyton’s famous slogan “the family that prayers together stays together” holds true- the family that prays together has a better chance of staying together in the family of the faith. I do passionately believe that if parish, school and home work together, the Gospel will spread.

 

My interest in Aston Villa is well known, but I also love pop music- the late 70’s and early 80’s being my favourite era. I once nearly took part in Ken Bruce’s Popmaster quiz, when it was still being broadcast on Radio 2. I was offered a date but I had to do a funeral at that particular time. They were to get back to me with an alternative, but this never happened. My chance of fame had gone.

 

Having said that, I had a special visitor at a confirmation in Banbury back in May. One of the confirmandi had a well-known Godfather, Prince William! He attended the Mass, at the start of which I announced that I was not the only Aston Villa fan present that evening.

After Mass, His Royal Highness approached me along with the other clergy. “So who’s the Villa fan then?” he asked. “Guilty as charged, Your Royal Highness,” I answered. “Do you get down there much?” “About 6 times a season, sir” was my reply. There is a rumour that the reason why I was moved somewhat unexpectedly back to Birmingham from Banbury is that Prince William suggested to Archbishop Bernard to move me closer to Villa Park!

 

St Dunstan’s and St Jude’s are busy parishes, but I am thrilled to be here. I am very well assisted by Fr Toby, who is truly a great help. I am indebted to Fr Philip and his various assistants for the sterling work they did here over the past 10 years, as indeed I am to Fr Christopher Fitzpatrick, who used to adore the Blessed Sacrament with me on Wednesday evenings. Of course, my real boss is my dog Dougal, better known as Fr Dougal.

I’m Fr Toby Duckworth – officially the youngest Catholic Priest in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. It’s such a joy to be with you here at St Dunstan’s and St Jude’s, and to finally have a people for my priestly heart to love. 

 

I’m from Sutton Coldfield, on the other side of the city. I was born into a Catholic Family, but like many lapsed for much of my teenage years. 

 

As a young man I became rather ‘moodily reflective’ and enjoyed asking the big questions of life whilst walking around the park. Little by little these wonderings became prayer. 

 

At 16, I had my dream job working as a lifeguard at the Alton Towers Water Park. By 18, I moved into youth ministry, spending a couple of years at our diocesan youth retreat centres. At 20, I moved into parish youth ministry for a little while whilst finishing my first degrees in Youth Ministry and (Pastoral) Theology. 

 

Taking the leap of faith with an application to join the seminary, rather surprisingly Archbishop Bernard sent me to Rome. I lived there for 7 years, studying with the Dominican’s and then the Jesuits there. Though really tough at first, I learnt Italian and became quite accustomed to wonderful trips around the country. I now, of course, love good Italian Coffee, Wine, Truffles, and indeed the Mountainous Landscape. 

 

My specialist training, officially a Licentiate in Sacred Theology, was in spiritual theology, and Ignatian Spirituality specifically. I trained with the Jesuits in the art of Spiritual Accompaniment and now accompany people through Ignatius’ rather lifechanging Spiritual Exercises in the midst of daily life. 

 

It is a joy to finally be in the parish, and able to journey with you through your highs and lows, trying to offer you Jesus there. I love the diversity of parish ministry – from parish Masses to schools, from hospitals to prisons, it’s all wonderful. No chance of getting bored! I devote a little extra energy to youth ministry, spiritual counselling, and retreat days/talks – these things being a particular passion of mine. 

Born in Birmingham, Deacon David worked for 38 years with Birmingham City Council, specialising in housing and estate management; he took early retirement in 2014. Deacon David and his wife Catherine were married in 1986, and they were both received into the Catholic Church, at St. Dunstan’s, in 1994. After four years of formation in the parish and at Oscott College, Deacon David was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in 2013. A Deacon (from the Greek word diakonos, meaning servant) is a sacramental sign of Christ the servant, and is called to be a faithful servant of the Word, of liturgy, and of charity.

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