The message of salvation is one that the world needs to hear, now more than ever, according to the youngest priest in the Diocese of Westminster and the second youngest priest in England and Wales.
Fr Timothy Mangatal, 29, is one of four Catholic priests ordained at the end of June at Westminster Cathedral. He is to serve as assistant priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George, Enfield.
He and the other new priests are in the unusual position of having spent nearly all their ministry as deacons online rather than meeting people face-to-face for catechesis, because of the pandemic.
Speaking to The Tablet, Fr Timothy said: “The aftermath of the first wave and the subsequent off-shoots of the particular variants had impeded my ministry as a Deacon, with the majority of my time being spent on Zoom instructing the young in the faith. However, despite the lack of human interaction in all of those months of preparation, the Lord was at work in what seemed at the time a hopeless situation.
“And I am grateful for the opportunity to still be able to plant, nurture and cultivate the seeds of faith embedded in the hearts of all whom I catechised in those months of preparation.
“Although the world may be very different to the one we enjoyed two years ago quite freely and unencumbered, the message of salvation remains and it is one that I believe now more than ever the world needs to hear.”
Raised as a Catholic, the schools he attended were the Rosary Catholic Primary School, Heston and St Mark’s Catholic School, Hounslow, of which he is the first priest to emerge, respectively. He attained both his first and second degree in theology from St Mary’s University, Twickenham, specialising in Sacred Scripture. He was baptised on 26 June 1992. It was that same date, 29 years later, that he was ordained as priest at Westminster Cathedral.
Covid-19 has not dulled his sense of mission. In fact, if anything it has made him more determined.
“My role as a priest is clear: it is to save souls for God and lead them to heaven. By God’s grace and will I am able to do this by the frequent celebrations of the sacraments, particularly and normatively through the sacraments of initiation and penance.”
He continued: “Of course and undeniably every priest is to be an evangelist by virtue of his office so I think it is vital if the world and more locally, the respective societies in which we live are to know that Christ came for them out of love for them.”
Born in Ealing, West London, his parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago. “To the best of my knowledge I have not been the recipient of racism, at least not intentionally nor explicitly,” he said.
The new priests with the Cardinal in the centre: left to right, William Johnstone, Tim Mangatal, Marco Salvagnini and Jakub Joszko. Photo by Mazur of CBCEW
He is now the youngest priest of the diocese. Fr Andrew Coy, aged 27, of Northampton diocese, is the youngest in England and Wales.
Fr Timothy said: “I hope to inspire more young men to answer the call to priesthood by being easily identifiable as a priest to all whom I may encounter day-to-day.”
He has a devotion to St Paul, Apostle and the Bible passage on his ordination card is Gal 2:19-21: “For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.”
Fr Timothy said: “The passage is important as I wrote my first theses on it and is what inspired my devotion to St Paul – I admired the certainty and conviction of Paul’s faith in Christ and his zeal to evangelise all peoples.”
Fr Tim Mangatal with his mother, Judy Church.
His favourite pope during his studies was Pope Gregory VII. “I am rather fascinated by Charlemagne and that era of Church History and I thought that Pope Gregory VII reforms had lasting effects and influence on the growth of the Church in the West. He also did well in defending the faith particularly the Eucharist and the commitment to celibacy.”
His favourite theologian was Dr Brant Pitre. “He is an eminent theologian and Scripture scholar of which I have a particular interest and I admire his research and promotion of a Catholic understanding and interpretation of Sacred Scripture.” His favourite encyclical is Mystici Corporis Christi, by Pope Pius XII.
In his homily at the ordination, Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke of “two great and lasting focal points in the life of a priest”.
He said: “The first is his radical focus on Christ. Here is the first and fundamental love of his life. Each morning, before all else, every priest must turn to Jesus, giving him first place, in prayer, in quiet reflection, laying the foundations for his day’s ministry. Each day he asks for the grace of conversion, a fresh love of the Lord.
“The second focus in the daily life of the priest is very clear: every priest is ordained to fulfil a ministry of service to the people entrusted to him. He is called to accompany them on their journey through life. He does so by his prayers, by offering the Sacraments, by his faithful teaching of the faith, by his constant pastoral care. He does so by fashioning a parish as a well-ordered place, a spring of good water where all may come for refreshment. He does so in obedience to the Lord, present in the Church, not least in the person of the bishop.”
In September, all four new priests will take up their appointments in parishes in the Diocese of Westminster. Fr William Johnstone will serve as assistant priest at Welwyn Garden City parishes, based at Holy Family, Digswell. Fr Jakub Joszko will serve as assistant priest at St John the Evangelist, Islington and The Blessed Sacrament, Copenhagen Street. Fr Marco Salvagnini will serve as assistant priest at Our Lady of Victories, Kensington.