Father Mícheál Lynch obituary

Other lives: Roman Catholic priest noted for his community work and fundraising skill

My uncle, Father Mícheál Lynch, who has died aged 83, was an Irish-born Catholic parish priest who ministered in various parts of the English Midlands for more than 40 years, before retiring in Lincoln.

Born in Dublin, he grew up on a farm in County Longford, the oldest of six children of Eugene Lynch, a farmer, and Rose (nee McDonald), a teacher. After completing his training for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin in 1958, he began his vocation in the diocese of Nottingham, where he quickly became renowned for his community work and skill at fundraising.

His first curacy, in 1958, was in the Sacred Heart parish in Leicester, where, among other things, he encouraged local musicians to play at weekly dances. These became important community events and generated essential funds for the parish.

His expertise at fundraising was noticed by his bishop, and two years later he was transferred to Alfreton in Derbyshire – still in the Nottingham diocese – to help raise money for the building of a new Catholic primary school. In 1970 he was appointed parish priest in Oakham, Rutland, where he took on the job of amalgamating two parishes, St Thomas of Canterbury at Exton and St Joseph and St Edith at Oakham. He was also responsible for the construction of a new church for the growing Catholic population, and set about the task with great enthusiasm. In 1975 the St Joseph’s Catholic Church and meeting rooms were formally opened, the old church becoming a thriving social centre that helped to raise funds to pay for other parish works.

The community in Oakham benefited socially from Mícheál’s love of music as he brought many show bands from Ireland to perform at fundraising events to help repay the church loan. His friendship with many of these performers, including Larry Cunningham and the Mighty Avons, Big Tom, Philomena Begley and the Bards, continued for the rest of his life.

In 1985 he moved to the parish of SS Peter and Paul in Lincoln, where he oversaw the construction of its new social centre, wrapping it around the existing church. As chair of governors at St Hugh’s Catholic primary school, he was also involved in transferring the school to a new site in the city.

Mícheál was popular in every parish in which he ministered, and was particularly close to the Traveller community, appearing as an officiating priest in the Channel 4 reality show Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. He retired from full-time ministry in 2000 due to poor health, but continued to provide pastoral care to the community until last year.

He is survived by his five siblings and 14 nieces and nephews.

Maeve Lynch

The GuardianTramp

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