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  1. Fr Thomas O'Donnell WF
  2. Sister Mary of Walsingham WSl
  3. Thomas Quirke
  4. Fr John McNulty 
  5. Gerry Wynne

Fr Thomas O'Donnell WF 1920 — 2004

Preston, 6 September 2004

The readings chosen for this Eucharist, in which we celebrate the life of your cousin, Gertrude, our confrere and beloved friend Thomas O’Donnell, would seem to reflect something of his life and character. You would not look for Tod (as we all knew him) in palaces, or expect to find him dressed in fine clothes. His gaunt figure could indeed call to mind John the Baptist, or perhaps a milder version of the great Precursor. For Tod, though he could be firm, had nothing fiery about him. He did not berate people, but rather encouraged them. He exemplified the qualities of the Servant of whom the Prophet Isaiah speaks. He did not raise his voice; he did not crush the bruised reed. He was in fact the servant who spent himself so that others might have life, and have it in abundance.
(photo source : Fr Peter Smith MAfr, UK Provincial)

It may surprise some of us to learn that Tom was born in Canada
, in Saskatchawan, of a Scots-Irish father and a mother from Lancashire, in fact from Preston. It was in Canada that he was baptized, made his first communion and was confirmed. But after the death of his father, his mother returned to England with her son. There will be mention later of his Canadian accent, different, but not unpleasant. He was soon to follow his missionary vocation, as also did his first cousin, Brother Kevin Corbishley.

The years of formation are not usually significant, but for Tod it is necessary to mention them. After a time at Autreppe, in Belgium, he went with the rest of the British and Irish philosophers to Kerlois, in Brittany. It was the time of the outbreak of war, but it was felt that Brittany was remote enough to be safe. No need to take the British and Irish to the UK. Alas, the Germans came, and this meant for Tod and his companions four years of internment at Saint-Denis, near Paris. Four wasted years, one could say, and yet … this group of young men, marked by this experience of making the best of adversity, turned out to be a special class of wonderful missionaries.

I often wonder what the further years of formation, novitiate and theology, must have been like, tame perhaps after the camp, but they led to ordination to the priesthood at Monteviot, in Scotland, in 1948. Tod’s practical bent had been noticed, and he was immediately appointed bursar, at the Priory, then in the philosophy house in Dorking, and finally at the junior seminary in St Boswell’s where he became superior. It was at the Priory that I first met Tod, and I remember playing table-tennis against him in a competition where he gave no quarter.

The reports from these years are glowing. Tod is described as humble, lovable, with outstanding moral qualities. He was noted for sound judgement, a sterling character. It was said that he would fit in anywhere, and be an asset to any community. As a superior he commanded not only respect, but also love – something rare in fact. There was perhaps one defect: he was indeed too good; he could not say no. This is something that would be remarked of him later, during his time in Africa.

For eventually, after twelve years at the service of the Province, Tod was able to fulfil his dream and go to Africa. Unusual for the British at that time, he was sent to French-speaking West Africa, to what is now Burkina Faso. He was to spend the next sixteen years in the diocese of Koudougou.

Incidentally, had Father Tom died in Burkina, and were the funeral taking place in that country, his coffin would probably have been tossed in the air several times, as a sign of joy for a long life lived well. We shall do not do that here but, at the Consecration, there will be a drum roll instead of bells, the sound of the tam-tam, to remind us of Africa.

After a few years in the cathedral parish, he was appointed to the Junior Seminary where his past experience stood him in good stead. He won the confidence of all, both staff and students. Even more than that, he won the confidence of the bishop and was made Vicar General, a post he would occupy for eleven years. This was no sinecure. Mgr Bayala became paralysed, but still stayed on as bishop. Tod had to be the arms and the legs of the bishop, carrying out all the difficult missions, such as conveying to priests the news of unwelcome changes of appointment. He did this with his usual goodness, kindness and understanding, and with great discretion. It is perhaps true to say that because of his gentleness, and because of his influence in the diocese, he was able to carry out this task with great success. I met him in Burkina at that time, thin as a rake but cheerful. He was aptly described by someone as “a reed that sways in the wind, but does not break”. An auxiliary bishop had just been appointed, and this signalled the end of this period of Tod’s missionary work.

The many years of tireless activity, a true John the Baptist, efficient but self-effacing, had taken their toll. Tod, although he was no “yes-man”, and often argued with the bishop over policy, had never been able to say no to the tasks the bishop entrusted him with. He was worn out. After a long period of rest he was able to return to Burkina, where he had been appointed Episcopal Vicar for the women religious. He was to help them, but they were actually asked to keep an eye on his health. During this time he spent himself in the service of the sick for whom he had a special love. But it could not last. At the end of 1986 Tod had to return to the UK. He worked for a few years in the multi-ethnic parish in Southall, and then in 1990 he came home to Preston where he remained until his death. You will be more familiar than myself of his activity in these last years, going around on his bicycle, visiting the sick, being ready to do supplies, welcoming visitors to the house. He was not a retired missionary who would grow fat in his later years. He was always a servant of his beloved Lord.

Tod was a practical Christian. He would surely have been happy with the answer Jesus gave to the messengers from John the Baptist. Jesus did not say let John listen to my preaching, but rather tell him what I am doing: the lame walk, the sick are cured and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. Tod was not always talking about his faith, but he lived it. To be able to do this for over eighty years he must have derived strength from his intimacy with the Lord he loved, whose faithful servant he was.

In a letter written some time ago, Tod left provision for Masses to be celebrated after his death. Typically, they were not for himself, but for his friends, in thanksgiving for their faithful friendship. He would have include among this number his “marraine de guerre”, a French lady who helped him and the other White Father internees in the camp at Saint-Denis. Tod had always maintained contact with her. But there were countless other friends too, many of them here in this city of Preston.

We are celebrating this Mass for Tod himself, recommending him to the Mercy of God, but let us also give thanks for his wonderful life and example. May this John the Baptist who has led so many people to Christ, continue to lead us to unite ourselves in word and action with the One who has given his life for us. And may the faithful servant receive the reward he deserves.

The following information was gleaned from , with apologies for any mistakes in the translation.

Original Diocese :
Place of Birth :
North Battleford
Spiritual year
St Boswells
Serment (Oath)

Bursar Bishop's Waltham
Bursar Dorking
Master of Discipline
Bishop's Waltham
Prof St Boswells
Superior St Boswells
Grand retreat Villa Cavalletti
Apprend Langue (language learning)
Guilongou CELA
Junior seminary
Supérieur Pet.Sémin.
Conseiller Régional
Vicar General & Superior of the Junior Seminary
Vicar General
Vicar General of the bishopric
Curate Koudougou,Cathédrale
Congé méd./Prov.
Ministry H.C.:
Superior and Bursar
Retour au Seigneur (83) à Preston

Rembered with affection — Eugene MacBride (December 2004) :

When I arrived at the Priory in 1950, Tod was procurator, a very difficult job indeed, given the pittance that Pop Howell and Frank Briody allowed him per pupil. There were harmless jokes about Tod having baths in our butter ration and a revised Grace, "We give thee thanks, almighty Tod . . . "

He taught us Scripture (OT) and we had to compare the building of Solomon's Temple with the various erections on the Festival of Britain site on the Thames south bank (1951).

I overheard him one day tell Cyril Brown how the priesthood virtually ensured your salvation.

I have a memory of him in overalls, cleaning out the blocked sewer near Tich Moran's door.  He was not a pretty sight.  Nowadays it would be a job for Dynarod but Tod was releasing the blockage with bucket and shovel. 

Like his pal, Kevin Wiseman, he was a cyclist par excellence.  He had a racer with an aluminium frame which he painted black as less likely to be stolen in Winchester or Botley.

He went to Broome Hall in 1954 and took over at St Boswell's in 1955, I think.  Didn't he go to the missions in 1958?  He was a very good friend to us Pelicans.

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Sister Mary of Walsingham WS (Mary Potts) 1917 — 2004
An appreciation of her life by John Morton, friend and former WF student

I first met Mary about fifteen years ago during one of my regular visits to St.Mawgan and Lanherne.Her family were, of course, well known in the village having moved from Newcastle in the late forties.Her sister Margaret had entered the convent at Lanherne but she had to leave due to ill health.
Mary joined the White Sisters (Missionaries of Africa) before the beginning of the Second World War and was professed as a nun at Heston Middlesex in 1940. Her first appointment was to Algeria in North Africa. She worked among some of the poorest people, living close to the desert for about eight years. She had to speak French all the time and endure the extremes of the climate. It was a testing time for her.

In 1949 she returned to England for a short while and was then sent to the White Sister's house in Washington. Mary became Novice Mistress initially and then Mother Provincial for the Order in the U.S.A. It was during this time that Mary took her first degree in Theology at Washington University. I remember how important these studies were for her and many years later she remembered how excited she was to be challenged intellectually.

Whilst in the U.S.A.she met a number of interesting people including Bishop Fulton Sheen (see left ) and Cardinal Spellman.She enjoyed her work in the States and.made many new friends.

In the early sixties she was recalled to England and sent to The School of Oriental and African Studies, at London University, to complete an M.A. in Comparative Religion. It was at this time that her parents in St. Mawgan were becoming frail and unwell so Mary decided to withdraw from the White Sisters Community to look after them.

Then began her second ministry in the village and surrounding district where she became well known for her kindness and unfailing charity to those in need. In her twilight years she retained her love of Theology and enjoyed interacting with people of divergent view s. She loved a good discussion.

Her deep spirituality, nurtured all those years ago by th White Sisters, remained with her throughout her long life. She was always true to her vocation. It was fitting therefore, that her funeral took place on the Feast of St.Therese of Lisieux, Patroness of Missionaries, who showed a particular interest in the work of the White Fathers and White Sisters in Africa. She has now gone home to the Lord whom she served so well.


Note : Sister Mary contributed many pictures to the section which deals with the history of Heston Parish Church — some of which are of her and her family. Click here to go directly to the relevant Page.

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Thomas Quirke
26th September 1951 — 22nd August 1994
Taken from The Guardian
Tuesday 6-Sept-1994

Dear Paul

I copied down the following obituary from a microfiche library archive of the Guardian. This was many years ago. So I thought I would pass it on to you since I wouldn't like 2004 to pass by without remembering Tom Quirke's untimely death 10 years ago in 1994.

You can see from your lists that Tom was at St. Columba's at the time of the fire, later at Danby Hall, and spent a year at the Priory (1965-66).

He was a great fan of pop music and I always remember this young enthusiast whenever I hear: The Beatles (Revolver), Otis Redding (Otis Blue), or The Kinks (Waterloo Sunset) - all from 1965/6.

Requiescat in pace

Robbie Dempsey

Obituary for Thomas Quirke (1951 — 1994)
by Peter Cole

The Guardian
Tuesday 6-Sept-1994

Tom Quirke who has died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 42 had all the ingredients of the fine journalist: he bubbled with ideas, was persistent, inquiring, sceptical, wrote well and had enormous energy. He was also amusing, engaging company, and just a little eccentric.

He was a good colleague, and when he was among a group, laughter was always there too.

New newspapers require special qualities in those brave enough to commit themselves to them. When the Sunday Correspondent was recruiting its staff many hundreds applied. Tom did not so much apply for as insist on a job. Both before and after being hired, he bombarded me, as editor, with dozens of ideas a day, not only
about what he should write but about the composition of the paper itself. The faxes would arrive by the yard, always couched in terms of certainty rather than suggestion.

(Tom, above, taken from the 1966 Priory group photo — Page 19 in the GALLERY section)

It was not a project for the faint hearted. An ebullient character, known around the office as Sir Thomas, he was always up when there was reason to be down. He believed in the paper all the way to its demise, putting all his considerable personality into making it work.

His career, like himself, was unconventional. After a history degree at Cambridge, and an M.A. at Keele, he joined the Mirror Group Training scheme at Plymouth. While most of his contemporaries concentrated on national newspapers he chose to work mainly in his native Birmingham, where he won a string of awards— most notably regional Reporter of the Year for his investigation of the case of two Birmingham girls sold into marriage and detention in Yemen.

His journalism was diverse, ranging from investigations and major new stories to lighter, amusing articles. He cared deeply about the quality of his writing. After the closure of the Correspondent he again based himself in Birmingham and wrote much for the nationals from there. He appeared frequently in Weekend Guardian.

Tom recently became involved in the establishment of a Buddhist project on Holy Island. A grove of trees will be planted there in his memory.

1994 report of Tom's death in The Birmingham Mail

(source: Robbie Dempsey)

May he Rest in Peace

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Father John McNulty 1919 — 2004
Taken from The Scottish Catholic Observer, January 2005

Fr John McNulty has died at the age of 85, having served 63 years as a White Father. (Thursday, 23rd December)

Fr McNulty attended St Patrick's Primary and *Our Lady's High School in Motherwell before left his home in Shieldmuir, Lanarkshire in 1936 to study for the priesthood at the White Father's college In Belgium. He was sent to Tunisia when the war broke out and was ordained in Carthage on April 1942.

Fr McNulty spent 20 years in West Africa in Ghana and Uganda helping to build schools and hospitals. One of his greatest legacies is that in 1956 he launched Africa's first credit union in Jirapa, Ghana, which eventually spread to 21 African countries. The credit union provided cheap loans for Africans who would not have received loans from other financial institutions.

He also spent 25 years in Rome at the headquarters of the missionary society as a senior adviser.

In 1982 he returned to Scotland to the White Fathers' residence in Rutherglen where he lived until his death.

In May 1992, Archbishop Thomas Winning of Glasgow and Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell joined in Fr McNulty's Golden Jubilee celebrations in St Patrick's Shieldmuir when the parishioners of his home parish presented him with the gift of a trip back to the mission in Tamale, Ghana that he had founded 50 years previously.

He was also guest of honour at a Civic Lunch organised by Motherwell District Council to mark his Golden Jubilee.
Fr McNulty's funeral Mass was celebrated in St Columbkilles, Rutherglen.

*There was a great missionary spirit in Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell at that time . . . the school being the Alma Mater of Fathers Tommy Duffy, Jack Bradley, Jack Robinson, John McNulty, Jimmy Tolmie, Joe Rice and Frank Briody, Pat Donnelly, to mention just White Fathers . . . (Taken from Fr Pat Donnelly's Obituary)

The following is taken from The White Fathers' International Website:

Nationality : British
Diocese: Motherwell
Spiritual year
Archives/ D.Carthage
Tunis Tunisia
Allied Invasion >
Provincial Treasurer
Heston, London
Local Treasurer, Scholast
Rossington Hall
Teacher, StMary'sSch.
Navrongo Ghana
Teacher, Maj.Seminary
Superior Jirapa
Superior St Andrews
Grand Retreat
Mours France
Teacher Claughton Hall
Curate+Credit Unions
Yendi, D.Tamale
Curate Jirapa,D.Wa
Studies Manchester Univ.
Superior Ratho
Arrives + taken to
Rubaga Hospital
Returns to
Translations Roma,M.G.
St Gallen
Translations Roma,M.G. Italia
Encount.Elderly Cfr.
Encount.Elderly Cfr.
Returned to The Lord (85)
May he Rest in Peace

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Gerry Wynne 1937 — 2004
The family would like to thank Pat Cassells, a very close friend of Gerry’s, for writing this tribute .

Gerry Wynne, an adopted Irishman.

The sun shone brightly as we buried Gerry beside his beloved Anne. The large number of family, friends, colleagues and confreres gathered together on that July morning served as a poignant reminder of just how many would miss him in the months and years ahead.

Gerry had travelled much and gathered many friends since he first set off from his native Edinburgh over fifty years ago. He acquired his early education at Holy Cross Academy in Edinburgh. The long road wound its way through St.Boswell’s,The Priory, Dorking, Blacklion, ‘s-Heerenberg and Carthage.

After ordination he spent time as a member of staff at St.Boswells, Danby Hall and finally as director of students at Totteridge, in London. In between, he spent eight years as a teacher at the mission at Tabora in Tanzania. This part of his life did indeed make an indelible if at times well veiled imprint. The blue skies of Africa were in stark contrast to the grey skies which greeted his return to Ireland in the late seventies.

From this distance, adjustments to life in Dublin seem to have been straight forward. But it was his rugged streak of determination with a leaven of arrogance, which now served him well. Together he and Anne made things work. With some assistance from family and friends they prospered.

And what friends he had. Gerry had that wonderful talent for holding on to his friends; from his first day at school to those last dark days of ill health and death.

After ordination he was sent to University College Dublin. There the redhead from Scotland, endowed with no small measure of charm, enjoyed many a field trip with the Geography Department and musical soirées with an ever-growing circle of friends.

His longest posting in Africa was in Tabora in Tanzania . Here, as a teacher and colleague, he managed to balance demanding standards and care for his pupils. Thus ensued a warm and lasting affection for Africa, warts and all. Later in his work for the IDA, (Ireland’s industrial development body), he demonstrated a Scotsman’s shrewd grasp of business principles. Once again in his professional work he garnered a high level of respect together with some very warm friendships.

Gerry, ever the bon viveur, shared a well-stocked table and a full-bodied burgundy. Clarets were dismissed as overrated and the new world wines as intruding upstarts. And a good cognac should never, ever be diluted.

Gerry had definite opinions on many (or should I say, most) subjects and enlivened many a dinner party. Dissent was tolerated but woe betide the sloppy or bigoted argument. The verbal exocet always remained a lively possibility. Through all vicissitudes his sense of humour survived. It was deceptively disarming and charmed more than a few over the years.
Together with Anne he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with the next generation of nephews, nieces, great nephew, and friends’ children. Language skills and music were freely shared. Gerry when asked what part of France he was from was wont to reply ‘du Nord’.

All his life he played the piano and the organ with an expressive and deft touch. He attributed his skill in no small part to a combination of his parent’s insistence on regular practice and the radio series Dick Barton. No radio allowed without piano practice! He regarded the sitting room as incomplete without his piano.

As a couple, he and Anne took great pride in their home and its decor. An enthusiastic embrace of the cult of DIY bridged budget shortfalls. The interest in DIY gadgets continued even after osteoporosis and Anne’s untimely death derailed all such enthusiasms.

Anne’s death left an appalling void in his life. Hopefully now there are no more tears and no more sorrows.

Gerry was a man of deep faith who always believed that we carry our God with us wherever we are. And our God never forgets us. As the psalmist has written:

‘If I climb the heavens you are there.
If I lie in the grave you are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn
And dwell at sea’s furthest end,
Even there your hand would lead me,
Your right hand would hold me fast.’

Gerry Wynne
Born 29 January 1937
Died 13 July 2004

Memories of Ged
by Eugene MacBride

I first met Ged Wynne (we all called him Ged and never Gerry) at St Columba's in March 1950.  Under Pat Boyd, he was the college organist and one of the six prefects (Hamilton, Hickey, Shields, Hynes, Fahy and Wynne) of whom four are now dead). There were empowered in those old days to use a tawse!  It was in my time there that Ged had his strap stolen and cut into pieces by Bill Sullivan. I think his was the last of prefects' belts to survive before Sullivan got at it. 

When Mike Fitzgerald (now Archbishop) arrived at St Columba's in April 1950, it was only Ged could give him a game of chess. 

Ged took over from Leslie Croaghan as organist at the Priory.  The odd thing is, I never associate him with organ practice.  I suppose he must have practised but I have no memory of it. 

Ged developed into a big, solid lad who started to play a lot of football but was never fast enough for his favourite position at full-back.  I can't remember the context but one day during a Maths lesson or after it, Fr Dickson bellowed at him as only Dickie could: "Wynne, are you bottom-heavy?!" 

My main memory of Ged is the 5th Sunday after Easter (Vocem Iucunditatis Annuntiate) at Blacklion when we opened the refurbished chuch at Glenfarne.  We all trooped up into the organ loft to sing the Mass as only WF students could but the organ would not play.  Ged had to get down under it and fiddle until a last he could get some music for the choir.  In my book it was his finest hour. 

We were in the noviciate together at 'sHeerenberg and then Ged moved on to North Africa to do his Theology with Mike Fitzgerald.  I was at his ordination at St Columba's on 1 February 1961.

Requiescat in pace

May he Rest in Peace

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