A CATHOLIC priest is bidding farewell to his parishioners after being transferred to a new parish on the edge of the New Forest.

Father George Ngwa is preparing to move to Our Lady of Lourdes at New Milton in the coming weeks to “take up new challenges”.

He was parish priest at St Joseph’s church in Romsey and had been there since 2013 after arriving from Cameroon in West Africa.

The 53-year old told parishioners: “I am leaving Romsey with a wealth of knowledge I will always treasure.

“I feel as if being here with you all each day has made me a more complete and well-rounded person."

He added: “I’ve learned how to take direction, corrections, and compliments, to be open-minded, to value other people’s opinions and to consider other ideas along with mine, so as to end up with a great final result.

“These are things that I feel that I can apply in many different situations.

“It’s been a pleasure working here and I will truly miss it. I take with me fond memories, valuable skills, and I hope to one day leave an impression on others similar to the one you have left on me.”

The church has confirmed that Fr Wojciech Paszko from St Joseph’s in Basingstoke will take over from him.

The Anglican Vicar of Romsey, the Revd Canon Tim Sledge, said: “Fr George has been a short-lived but precious asset to the church and to the community here in Romsey.

“By his gentle, warm and caring approach he has endeared himself to so many. What has struck me most is his compassion and his humility.

“He has also been a lovely colleague to have among the church leaders here in Romsey and has provided a very important part of the family of church leaders here in Romsey.

“We are sorry to see him go, and surprised just as he was settling in that he has been moved on.

“But New Milton’s gain is Romsey’s loss and in the Abbey we look forward to working in healthy partnership with his successor.”