Sir Patrick Hannon, MP. for the Moseley Division of Birmingham, made the presentation of a motorcycle and cheque to Father Owen McCoy at the White Fathers Hall ; on the occasion of his leaving to take up missionary work in NAVRONGO, Gold Coast, British West Africa, after four years service at Heston, where he has been parish priest. Friends in neighbouring districts associated themselves with the Heston parishioners in this tribute to a popular priest, and on Sunday evening there was a crowded gathering in the White Fathers Hall.
This event was preceded by Solemn Benediction in the church, at which Father McCoy was celebrant, Father Murphy Deacon, and Father Levesque Sub Deacon. The sermon an impressive discourse on missionary endeavour was delivered by Father Kenneth, O.P., of Highgate.
Mr V.C. Hassan (chairman of the testimonial committee) presided at the presentation. Sir Patrick Hannon was accompanied by Miss L. Hannon, others on the platform were Father B.T. Brown (Father Superior of the White Fathers, Heston), Father Kenneth, Father McCoy, Father T. Tye (The new parish priest of Heston), and a number of the community of White Fathers. The motor- cycle bought for father McCoy was also on the platform, and over it was draped the Papal flag.
The Chairman said in their esteem towards Father McCoy the parishioners felt, that they should make some small contribution towards the object he had in view and the vow he had taken. A committee was formed and it was suggested, that as Father McCoy was a missioner, taking a message the best thing could do was to get something, that would help him in taking the message to Africa. Accordingly it was decided to give him a motor-cycle.
Through the generosity of the parishioners and of the people outside the parish, who were in sympathy with the cause, the amount exceeded the cost of the machine (£41 10's) by £20.
Mr Hassan recalled, that the parish was initiated in 1928 by the White Fathers, and that the following year saw the provision of a beautiful little church. In the short space of nine years, that the missionary parish had sent two Father Superiors, two parish priests - they were now sending a third - and many more White Fathers to Africa to engage in the work for, which they intended themselves, and he considered, that Heston had every reason to be proud of itself.
Sir Patrick Hannon in making the presentation to Father McCoy said, how grateful he was for the honour of being invited to share in a function, that was only a part of that sequences of missionary work, that would be identified for all time with the story that new parish in the surrounds of London. There was no duty, that could be committed to a public man, particularly a Catholic more gratifying, than to be associated with a function of that kind. There was the melancholy touch - the parting with a great and devoted friend, with whose services spiritual and social, they were all familiar. There was the feeling, that they were parting with one, who was near and dear to them, and would always have a place in their hearts, but there was also a feeling of exultation because of the sublime, elevating, refining and inspiring work upon, which Father McCoy was about to enter in discharge of the fundamental obligation of the great brotherhood to which he belonged.
They were not only wishing Father McCoy bon voyage and constant power in prosecuting the great objective of the brotherhood, but were expressing their profound conviction, that everyday in his future missionary life accomplishment would be the reward of his efforts.
Continuing, Sir Patrick said, that he had no doubt, that many of those present had association with Ireland and in the sermon, that evening he was touched by the reference to the shadows of the Hills of Donegal. They could always reflect with pride, that there was not a hill or valley in Ireland, had not made a contribution to the expansion of the Christian Church throughout the world. It has been his fortune in life to travel extensively, to be associated with many movements, and to see much in the last 55 to 60 years of the pathways of progress and the variety and multiplicity, of policies, that dominated the action and tendencies of men.
His conclusion was, that no policy no human purpose could have it's adequacy and fullness of result unless it was dominated and guided by that great spirit, that great missionary principle, which Father McCoy was going to teach in his work in Africa.
Could anything be more striking as an example of Catholic fidelity to the ideal of bringing all mankind under the banner of God, than the work, that was being done by the White Fathers in Africa. In Father McCoy they were adding one more worker to that great cause. With the rapid spreading of London over the Home Counties, there was an immense field of work and of responsibility for every genuine Catholic, and the White Fathers had done a great work there. In asking Father McCoy to accept some small mark of their affection for him and of their gratitude for the services he had rendered as parish priest, and in wishing him God-speed, they hoped, that from time to time he would come back to his old parish, and tell them something of the story of progress and triumph with, which he would be identified in the years to come-concluding, Sir Patrick said it was his proud privilege to ask Father McCoy to accept the motor-cycle, which he would no doubt find useful in travelling over the new parts in which his duties in the future would lie, and also the cheque and wallet
Response from Father McCoy.
Responding after loud and prolonged applause, from the assembly, Father McCoy said, that he had never thought, that he would have the privilege of speaking after a famous Member of Parliament . They had to end that meeting with a tone of joy ; there was no reason for being sad. He was delighted at leaving for the missions because he was ordained for that purpose. He had only been lent to Heston to try to do some good in the parish. It would be silly to think, that he had earned the motorcycle and the cheque. He had just been the medium for receiving the presentation on behalf of the White Fathers. The work of Father Brown had been made easier by the work done by Father Laane and Father Howell.
He was very grateful to the committee, who had organised the presentation, and to all, who had subscribed to the wonderful gift - the best present they could give to missionary in these modern times. He thanked all the parishioners for their loyalty and help during the last four years. He had enjoyed every moment of the time. There had been advance ; they had formed all sorts of organisations and things were going ahead, that would not of been possible without the assistance of the parishioners, and he asked for the same loyalty to be given to his successor, Father Thomas Tye. With renewed thanks to all his friends, he hoped, that although parted they would continue to remember one another in their prayers and sacrifices.
A very hearty expression of thanks was tended to Sir Patrick Hannon at the instance of Father Brown, who took the opportunity of saying what a great sorrow it was for him personally to see Father McCoy leaving after their many years of work together. He was greatly touched by every expression of gratitude extended to his colleague ; and he thanked the chairman and other members of the Testimonial Committee for their devoted work, and anyone, who had shown kindness to Father McCoy.
The chairman voiced his appreciation for to all, who had served on the committee, especially mentioning Miss Watson and Mr J. Craig for their work as secretary and treasurer respectively. He also thanked Mr L.A. Titcomb for the very effective way he had decorated the platform.
The Function was closed with the singing of "God Bless The Pope", and the National Anthem.
August 1937 The New Heston Parish Priest.
This article may have been written by the 'new parish priest' Fr Thomas Tye — and submitted to the Middlesex Chronicle for publication.