News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
- A LOOK BACK AT OUR COMMEMORATIVE ISSUE
John Keeley was born on 6 November 1939 and followed in his father’s footsteps as a craftsman, mastering a whole range of skills in the construction and maintenance of buildings and gaining a reputation for dedication to his work and utter reliability.
He married Maureen on 11th April 1970 and they enjoyed 50 years of family life together, bringing up their children, Catherine, Gerard and Damian and the generations to follow. John was dedicated to his family but also generous with his time and his talents in looking after the needs of his extended family and of an untold number of parishioners in Our Lady of the Annunciation, Bishop Eton. John’s son Gerard, in his eulogy at the Requiem Mass, said that whilst there was great demand for John’s presence and his skills within and beyond the extended family, there was always enough of John to go round. John’s commitment to service and the depth of his faith led to the discernment of his vocation to the permanent diaconate and, with the support of the parish priest of the time, Father Peter Brett, he was ordained on 28 June 1987.
John continued his practical work of service but now added to it the liturgical role of assisting at Mass and presiding at baptisms, weddings and funerals, developing a great gift for preaching. The present parish priest, Father Tim Buckley, described his liturgical presence as impressive, unfussy and exuding a calm authority, his magnificent beard making him look like an Old Testament prophet, but always preaching the New Testament message of Christ’s compassion.
Father Tim went on to say, ‘on many occasions he would so touch my heart that I would be moved to share his insights with the congregations at St Mary’s later in the day’.
John remained fit and active well beyond the retirement age for deacons of 75 and his death on Friday 9 April, just two days short of the 51st anniversary of his marriage to Maureen, was a great shock to everyone who knew him and relied on him so much.
Bishop Ralph Heskett, another former parish priest of Bishop Eton, travelled from his diocese of Hallam to preside at John’s funeral, which was attended by the limited number of his family and friends allowed by the Covid restrictions in place at the time but also watched via livestream by many more priests, deacons and lay people who would have wanted to be there to thank God for his life and ministry.