Father James Carling, parish priest to St Mary’s Church in Alton, has died just a few days before he was due to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Fr Carling had served the Diocese of Portsmouth since 2005 and moved to St Mary’s Church in 2017.

Bishop Philip Egan has expressed his sorrow following the news of Fr Carling’s death. 

He said: “I was saddened and shocked to learn that Fr James Carling has died just days before celebrating his 70th year. I know that the people of his parish and beyond will miss him terribly and will be struggling to come to terms with this unexpected news. 

“Since he commenced his work for the Diocese in 2005, he has touched the lives of so many people, serving the faithful of Jersey, Thatcham, Wash Common, Hedge End, Bitterne and of course, Alton. I have fond memories of celebrating the Mass for Jubilarians last year at St John’s Cathedral, where Fr James marked 40 years since his ordination. We give God thanks for Fr James’s life and ministry! 

“Let us earnest pray for the soul of Fr James Carling. After a lifetime of unceasing priestly service, may he finally rest in peace and rise in Glory.”

Fr James Carling was born on March 4, 1953 in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.

He studied at the Missionary Institute, Mill Hill, London and entered the Order of the Ghost, English Province when he was ordained on September 25, 1982.

He joined Portsmouth Diocese in 2005 and during that time served parishes in Jersey, Thatcham, Wash Common, Hedge End, Bitterne and Alton.