Mgr William Kilgannon has had an especially busy and rewarding few months. He celebrated fifty years of priesthood on 20 June. His family, parishioners and friends ensured that this important milestone was celebrated in style. The article below relates all the aspects of the momentous occasion.
Mgr Kilgannon also played an important role in the ceremony, “The First Spade in the Ground”, which saw the blessing of the ground which will house St Wilfrid’s Centre’s Residential Project. Pictured above with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Cllr Talib Hussain, Kevin Bradley, Director of St Wilfrid’s Centre and Wilfrid Bear, Mgr Kilgannon, Chairman of St Wilfrid’s Centre, carries out the blessing of the ground. The full story of this exciting work is below.
A Golden Jubilee Weekend to Remember
On 20 June 2015, Monsignor William Kilgannon celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood. Mgr Kilgannon has been a priest at the Mother of God Church since 1977, the first year spent as Curate and the remainder of his time as Parish Priest.
For a priest to serve and minister to a parish and community for 38 years is fantastic and the parish felt that his Jubilee was their opportunity to give something back and to show Mgr Kilgannon their gratitude and love for all his help and guidance over the years.
The weekend started on the evening of Friday, 19 June with a Mass of Celebration at the Mother of God Church which was concelebrated by Bishop Ralph, Bishop John, Mgr Kilgannon and over forty priests. Members of Mgr Kilgannon’s family had made the journey over from Ireland to be with him and the parish on this very special occasion.
Several presentations were made to Mgr Kilgannon, which included a Papal Blessing from His Holiness Pope Francis, a Spiritual Bouquet from the parish and a cheque. The final gift was a tin whistle which the parish had had hand made in Ireland, plated in gold and engraved. On receipt of the whistle Father gave us a tune and the applause nearly brought the church down.
Following the Mass there was a buffet and drinks in the Parish Centre.
On Saturday, 20 June, the St Vincent de Paul Conference at Mother of God arranged a Pea and Pie lunch for the housebound. There was a Mass prior to the lunch at which the Sacrament of the Sick was administered to all those who wanted it. Lifts were arranged so that all those who wanted to attend were able to do so.
Evening Mass at 6.30pm was also our monthly Youth Mass and coincided with the actual date of Father’s Jubilee. All past young people who had sung, played instruments or taken any part in the Youth Mass over the years were invited to come along and take part, and many did. We had drums, guitars, violins, trumpets and an organ along with the singers.
The highlight of the Mass was the playing and singing of ‘The Trinity Song’ to the tune of ‘Come by the Hills’, Father’s favourite tune.
Following Mass there was a get together in the Parish Centre with yet more cake and a drink.
On Sunday morning following both Masses there was again cake and drinks in the Parish Centre.
On the afternoon of Sunday, 21 June there was a big party at All Saints Catholic High School. All parishioners and friends were given an open invite to attend. There was a bouncy castle for the children, a hog roast, Morris and Irish dancing, and lots more dancing to the Dale Country Show band. The highlight of the afternoon was a surprise ‘This is Your Life’ programme in which Father’s early life, photos and stories were shared with the audience, along with the more up to date life and stories.
Many special guest appearances were made, including Fr Pat O’Connor who has known Fr Kilgannon since their seminary days. Bishop Ralph spoke about the help and guidance Father had given him when he arrived in the Diocese. Bob Sawyer and Claire Scott from All Saints School spoke about Father’s impact on the School and also on them as individuals, and Catherine Goodchild gave a lovely address on Father’s contribution to St Wilfrid’s School. There were stories from his family too.
Celebrations continued in Ireland the following weekend. The Parish thanks Mgr Kilgannon’s family for taking the time to travel over to Sheffield and also for all their help in collating information for the ‘This is Your Life’ production. The following address was made by Father’s niece, Marie, and we all think that it sums up our brilliant, loving, supportive and one in a million Parish Priest.
“My memories of Fr Willie start from a very young age when this tall, tall man in black, would arrive speeding in his car, with jellies for us and the dreaded handshake where he told you that you had a wobbly arm as he shook your hand and you giggled so much that you couldn’t talk or make any sense.
“I remember him smoking a pipe years ago and always associate that smell with the fun of him being around! He has this amazing ability to bring constant laughter to the house. You never knew what was going to happen when he was around but you were certain that it would be fun, a bit mad and memorable. He seemed to only ever need 3-4 hours sleep and you were likely to find him saying Mass or starting an Irish music session in the sitting room, sometimes both. When I’d see my mother buying the grapefruit I knew Fr Willie must be coming home. Of course he loved to trick us into trying a piece and laughed as our faces squirmed with the sour taste. As a very young child I thought he was this mythological hero, dressed in black, didn’t need sleep, had endless energy, made us laugh so much and was always so, so kind.
“As a 12 year old, along with my sister, I got to spend three weeks with Fr Willie in Sheffield. We had a ball. I will never forget the day that I went to about five different local corner shops looking for buttermilk so that my sister could make him brown bread. The mystified looks I got from the shopkeepers as I tried to explain what buttermilk was!
“Over the years Fr Willie has been such a positive, reassuring and kind part of our lives. His ability to relate to everyone, to know exactly what to say and to be so dignified and respectful whilst seeking the fun in life, is nothing short of magical. Now my own children are developing that same relationship with him and laugh when he shakes their hands or plays the tin whistle for them. I feel so lucky to have this gifted hero in my life and think that if every parish or extended family had a Fr Willie in their life they would know the true value of life, family, prayer and happiness.”
Blessing of the Ground
A dream came true for Director of St Wilfrid’s Centre, Kevin Bradley when the Residential Project commenced on Queens Road. The day centre for homeless and vulnerable people has been raising money to build the residential for the last few years and amazingly have raised £1.7m. The final figure required for the building because of increased costs is now £2m but, because they are almost there, St Wilf’s decided to start the work and have appointed Henry Boot to build 20 apartments. The clients will live in the residential for up to 2 years whilst attending the day centre Monday to Friday to learn social and employable skills. When they leave the project and move into a flat they will receive continued outreach support from the day centre.
Others who attended included Secret Millionaire and Patron of St Wilfrid’s Centre, Simrin Choudhrie; local MP, Paul Blomfield; Chris Steer and Tony Currie from Sheffield United; Lady Anne Neill and Nasim Malhotra from London based charity, ‘Path to Success’.
Should anyone wish to give support to St Wilfrid’s, either financial or practical, then please contact Kevin on 0114 2555720.