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Much-loved Haverhill priest is mourned by the community

Father Michael Teader, a man who touched the lives of generations of Haverhill people during decades as first a teacher and then a priest, has died aged 80.

Fr Michael, who was Suffolk born and bred, had been suffering from cancer and died last Friday morning at Devonshire House Care Home, in Cavendish, where he had been for a few weeks.

He had celebrated his 80th birthday last May and such was his standing in the community that the party thrown in his honour was attended by hundreds of people.

The late Father Michael Teader, parish priest at St Felix Roman Catholic Church in Haverhill, who has died at the age of 80
The late Father Michael Teader, parish priest at St Felix Roman Catholic Church in Haverhill, who has died at the age of 80

Fr Michael taught for a number of years at St Felix Primary and Castle Hill Middle schools in Haverhill.

He then trained to become a Catholic priest and, after being ordained, became the parish priest at St Felix Catholic Church, in Haverhill, in 2001.

Fr Christopher Smith, parish priest in Newmarket and a friend of Fr Michael,
said: “Although by his own admission, somewhat shy by nature, Fr Michael
had a natural capacity for friendship and he had a wide circle of friends.

"He was great company.

“He will he remembered for his ability to connect with people of all ages and from all backgrounds and make them feel supported and cared for.”

Fr Christopher said that Fr Michael had spent his early years in Hundon and, apart from National Service in the RAF in Ely, he was to spend the rest of his life in Haverhill.

After National Service, Fr Michael worked in the Trustees Saving Bank, before training as a teacher.

Here he found his vocation and a channel for his many talents and, said Fr Christopher: “He influenced generations of Haverhill people, as well as newly qualified teachers whom he took under his wing.”

Growing up in Hundon, the then rector in the village, Fr Arthur Waskett, nurtured Fr Michael’s Christian faith and made a lasting impression upon him.

Fr Michael’s experience of working at St Felix Primary also influenced him and while he was still teaching he trained as a Roman Catholic deacon.

After taking early retirement from his job as deputy headteacher at the school, he worked as a chaplain at HMP Highpoint.

After being ordained, Fr Michael then served as parish priest at St Felix Church, in Haverhill, until he had to stand down through ill health in November 2019.

During his time as parish priest, Fr Michael was responsible for the building of the new Catholic church in Princess Way, which was completed in 2012.

Fr Christopher added: “More important than the construction of a building was Fr Michael’s building up of the Catholic Community in Haverhill so it became what it is today; a vibrant, outward-looking, multicultural community.

"Fr Michael volunteered at the St Nicholas Hospice Care Hub, in Haverhill, and had many interests, including gardening, reading, travel, music and art and flower arranging, being an active member of local flower clubs.

“He will be missed greatly by so many people, here in Haverhill and further afield.”

The Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia, paid tribute to Fr Michael.

He said: “Fr Michael has given so much to the Church and particularly to our diocese, both in his work in education and in his pastoral care both as a permanent deacon and then as the parish priest in St Felix in Haverhill, after his ordination to the priesthood in 2001.

“We thank God for his life and ministry and pray for the repose of his soul.”

The funeral arrangements for Fr Michael have yet to be confirmed.