Michael was ordained priest in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on 5 June 1971
Father Michael O’Dowd, Parish Priest of St Agnes, Eccleston for almost 30 years, moral theologian, former Episcopal Vicar for Education and archdiocesan trustee died peacefully on the afternoon of Wednesday 29 March at St Catherine’s Hospice, Lostock Hall. He was 76 years of age and in the 52nd year of his priesthood.
Michael O’Dowd was born in Liverpool on 17 August 1946 to Patrick and Mary O’Dowd. In his family were Catherine, his sister, and Peter, his brother. Michael was baptised and made his first Communion in St Francis de Sales Church, Walton. He started school there but finished his primary education in St Matthew’s, Clubmoor, where he was also part of their altar boy team under the supervision of Miss Turner. When he was confirmed he took the name Edward.
Passing the scholarship, he became a pupil in St Edward’s, West Derby. After a year he began studies for the priesthood at St Joseph’s College, Upholland. During the summer holidays he helped with the St Francis de Sales scout trips and later worked as an auxiliary nurse at Newsham Hospital on the geriatric wards. His father also managed to get him a job at Liverpool Museum helping to restore a steam engine.
Michael was ordained priest in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on 5 June 1971 and celebrated his First Mass in St Aloysius’ Church in Roby. After ordination, he was sent to Rome for two years for further study with an extra two years in St John’s College, Oxford.
In September 1975, Michael joined the formation staff at Ushaw College, Durham, to teach moral theology. He was also assistant procurator which meant that he chose and bought the wine for college feasts. He had further periods of study in the 1980s in Rome, Birmingham and San Francisco. He was a member of the Association of Teachers of Moral Theology and was their long-time secretary. He also served as a Medical Ethics Advisor/Consultant to a couple of Hospital Trusts. During college holidays, Michael supplied in different parishes in the north-east and the Cotswolds.
In 1993, after 18 years teaching in the seminary, Michael took up a new appointment as Parish Priest of St Agnes’, Eccleston, Chorley. In October 1997, Archbishop Patrick Kelly asked him to take on the role of Episcopal Vicar for Education, a role he held until August 2019. At this point he became a member of the Archbishop’s Council and a Trustee of the Archdiocese. Later, he was asked to represent the archdiocese in the Apostleship of the Sea and this he did for many years. He was also a member of the board of Governors at Liverpool Hope University.
In 2021, Michael celebrated 50 years as a priest. It was only in September last year that he submitted his resignation as parish priest due to his declining health though he continued to live in the presbytery.
The last six months of Michael’s life were dominated by hospital appointments, various forms of treatment and worsening health. He was incredibly courageous in dealing with the effects of cancer and was very grateful for the care shown him by his GP and the staff in St Catherine’s Hospice where he spent the last month of his life.
His body was received into St Agnes church on the evening of Thursday 20 April when a simple vigil service took place. His Funeral Mass was celebrated at St Mary’s, Leyland on Friday 21 April prior to burial at St Peter and St Paul, Mawdesley.
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Obituary of Rev Michael O’Dowd