Replacing Sudbury’s much-loved priest-in-charge “Greg of St Gregory’s” was always going to be a tough task – but Mayor Sue Ayres has high hopes for his replacement.
“We are delighted to welcome her”, said Mrs Ayres about the Rev Canon Cheryl Collins.
“It is a new beginning for everyone. She has a wealth of expertise from working in some quite diverse parishes, she is so gifted reaching out to everyone, she will be there for all the towns people.
“When I met her, I immediately knew that I would feel that I could go to her to share a problem or voice my fears or worries.”
Canon Collins is coming to the parish, which includes the redundant churches St Mary’s at Chilton and St Peter’s in Sudbury, from the Suffolk Heights parish.
She is an honorary Canon of St Edmundsbury Cathedral. The 53-year-old replaces the Rev Canon Gregory Webb, who died from cancer last August.
Such was his popularity that many of the large crowd of people attending to his funeral service had to listen from outside, as St Gregory’s was full.
“He is going to be a hard act to follow,” said Canon Collins. “I didn’t know him very well as I only met him a couple of times, but I know what tremendous respect he had.
“If I had of known him too well it could have paralysed me.”
Canon Collins said she was looking forward to the role and moving to the town where she said lots of things were happening.
Since being given the job in March she has been getting to know the area.
She is originally from East Anglia, having grown up in Cambridge, but has spent time in different parts of the country.
Canon Collins first plan is to meet the parishioners and residents and to listen, rather than bring in some ‘whizzy new initiative’.
One thing she has already noticed is that the St Gregory’s congregation is ‘on the mature side’, so is hoping she can make it more attractive for families.
Being single herself, Canon Collins also noticed there was a large population of single people in the town.
“What can we do for people who are single, divorced or widowed?” she asked.
“It’s very easy to concentrate on the families and neglect the single people. The church is there to be a family for all of its parishioners.”
Canon Collins will be inducted by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Martin Seeley, on July 5, at St Gregory’s Church at 7.30pm.