A little over ten years ago the Hallam News celebrated John Serjeant’s ordination to the priesthood which took place on 8 December, 2008 at The Annunciation Church, Chesterfield. Bishop John officiated at the service. He was assisted by a number of priests from the Diocese and Deanery. In his homily Bishop John encouraged Fr John to share in the same ministry as Christ by remembering the example of the Good Shepherd, through a life of service.
Bishop John paid a special tribute to Fr Frank Flynn who encouraged and accompanied Fr John in his journey towards the priesthood. The Bishop also thanked John Wilson, who also played a part in John’s journey.
Fr John is a former Anglican priest. His son Jerry and twin grand-daughters, Rachel and Anna, also attended the service with their mother, Jo. Jerry said, “I’m very proud of him.” Fr John was appointed to serve in the Chesterfield Deanery. He is pictured with Bishop John (left) and Fr Frank Flynn (right) on the occasion of his ordination.
He spent the early days of his priesthood in The Annunciation parish, where he often visited St Mary’s Primary School. The staff and children really appreciated his visits. One pupil was especially excited because he thought Fr John was the same John Sergeant who was at that time having great success on Strictly Come Dancing. Needless to say this was much to Fr John’s amusement.
Fr John died on 9 December, 2018. His son paid this tribute to his dad at his Funeral Mass at The Annunciation Church on 4 January.
Thank you all for coming to celebrate the life and pray for the soul of my Dad, John Serjeant. He was many things to many people throughout his life. Son, Husband, Dad, Grandad, Great Grandad, Father in Law, Neighbour, Friend.
In his professional life
He was Vicar of St Luke’s and St James’ Churches in Manchester. He established the role of Hospital Chaplain at the Royal Hospital here in Chesterfield. He joined the Catholic family in Chesterfield in 2008 and joined the priesthood and became Fr John.
A real ’People Person’ who was always able to strike up a conversation with anybody. A good listener who was interested in people’s lives and wanted to help them with their problems. As a boy I always felt immense pride in the way he was able to capture an audience, perhaps from the pulpit at church or Sunday School, where he would always have the children squealing with laughter whilst at the same time delivering his message about God’s love.
His ability to connect with people was always very evident at football matches. His allegiances were always with Ipswich Town (his home town team) or ‘The Arsenal’ for whom his fondness grew when he studied Theology at King’s College. He would always end up laughing with those around him at the match at Manchester City, telling stories and sometimes discussing issues with them. He was never impressed by social status and treated everyone exactly the same. I remember one occasion we were sat near the BBC commentary desk at City and he spotted an ex-Arsenal ‘great’, Ray Parlour with a pair of headphones on. He wandered over … “Hello Ray” with a big, beaming smile. At first I detected the caution in Ray’s eyes but I needn’t worry, they were laughing away, chatting quite quickly.
When I was a young boy, Dad asked me why I thought someone who cleaned toilets in Piccadilly, Manchester didn’t get paid the same as the chairman of ICI … I don’t think he really believed the pay should be the same for both, but I think it was his way of suggesting to me that everyone is equal in God’s eyes.
The jokes (oh the jokes). The amazing Grandad, chasing his grandchildren around the house. The stories … could easily have become a successful children’s author, he could make up stories on the spot, often about the mouse he kept as a boy, Monty Mouse.
His laughter, tears rolling down his face laughing at Corporal Jones on Dad’s Army on TV.
Stories about his early childhood … the fighters and bombers over his childhood home in Ipswich.
Daft things will always remind me of him. Burnt toast! Fish and chips! Eton Mess! Pickled onions! VWs! Coleman’s mustard … that sneeze! Brass bands!
Still joking in his final days … lying in bed pretending to box with me.
A big thumbs up and a smile when told (after the last rites) that he’d had his ‘passport stamped and was ready to fly’.
Thanks for everything Dad. We all love you very much and we will all miss you and remember you for so many different reasons. We can all still feel your love even now. You were a wonderful man.
Rest in Peace and may God bless you.