The Blessing of the Headstone on the Grave of Two Former Parish Priests of St Peter-in-Chains, Doncaster
Whilst parish priest at St Peter-in-Chains, Doncaster, Fr Gus O’Reilly was made aware of the existence in Hyde Park cemetery of the graves of two former priests, Fr Andrew Leonard and Fr Charles Flynn. Fr Leonard was parish priest at St Peter’s from 1891-1927 and Fr Flynn was parish priest there from 1938-1952.
Fr O’Reilly was advised that the graves were in a dilapidated condition and were not befitting to their memories. After visiting the graves, he had thought that replacing the broken headstone would help, but after taking advice from the guardians of the cemetery, it was decided not to go ahead.
As a more fitting alternative, he arranged for the priests to be taken from the old cemetery and laid to rest in the new Catholic section of Rose Hill Cemetery. During 2010, their remains were dis-interred and after a Requiem Mass at St Peter’s on 11 November of that year, they were re-interred in their new resting place. For a number of reasons, the grave had no headstone.
After nearly eight years, parishioner Vi Green visited the cemetery to pay her respects but, due to the grave being unmarked, she was unable to find it. She decided that the time had come to remember these former parish priests by the placing of a headstone. Vi, together with fellow parishioner, Sir Patrick Duffy, kick-started a fundraiser by each giving a donation.
Fr Declan Brett, currently curate at St Peter’s, continued the fundraising by selling Easter cards. Printed at HMP Doncaster, with the help of their Chaplain, Deacon Harish Massey, they were sold at St Peter’s, the Convent of Mercy, the Maridon bookstore, and in the parishes of Bentley and Askern. The entire funds were raised in under a week.
On Friday, 25 May, 2018 a group of parishioners gathered for the blessing of the headstone. Vi and Sir Patrick were present and shared their memories of these priests.
Sincere thanks goes to everyone who helped in the realisation of this project.