Holy Island, known as the cradle of Christianity, has a vacancy for a new vicar which is sure to attract keen interest.
Rev Dr Paul Collins, vicar for the past six years, is retiring at the end of the year due to ill health.
He has suffered from a disease known as ankylosing spondilitis for the past 40 years but was advised earlier this year to take early retirement on medical grounds.
Writing in the Island newsletter, he explains: ‘Earlier this year, my consultant rheumatologist advised me that continuing to work was threatening my health both now and in the longer term and advised me to seek early retirement.
‘After a process of some months, I have been granted permission to retire on grounds of ill health. And I will officially retire as vicar of St Mary’s on December 31 this year.’
Ankylosing spondilitis primarily affects the spine but can also affect any joint in the body.
‘For me the disease has meant living with constant pain and ongoing fatigue,’ said Rev Collins. ‘This arises from the disease’s impact upon the skeleton and muscles; which means that sleep and rest do not ameliorate the fatigue. On occasion the pain can become very acute and joints can become very stiff and inflamed. I am currently experiencing such a flare up in my neck, shoulders and hands, which is why I am no longer working.
‘Nonetheless I have always sought to live life to the full. I have sought not to be defined by this illness, although I am very aware of the limitations it imposes upon me.’
Newsletter editor Geoff Porter added: ‘I am sure that you will all wish to add your prayers to those of our community for Paul and Pauline as they prepare for the next stage in their lives.’
They have two grown-up daughters, Helena and Sophie.
He was based in Bognor Regis before coming north, teaching at the University of Chichester and assisting in the parish of St Paul’s Chichester. He was brought up in Aldridge in the West Midlands and ordained at nearby Lichfield Cathedral.