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Respects paid to former parish priest

Northampton Cathedral, Barrack Road, Northampton.
Funeral of Fr John Harris, former priest at St Gregory's Church.

Northampton Cathedral, Barrack Road, Northampton. Funeral of Fr John Harris, former priest at St Gregory's Church.

 

Final respects have been paid to a priest who served Northampton’s Catholic community for 29 years.

Father John Harris was parish priest at St Gregory’s Church, in Park Avenue North, Abington, from 1983 to 2000.

But he continued to serve following his retirement, holding daily mass in the care home were he spent his final years.

Fr Harris died aged 82 on February 19. His funeral took place on Tuesday at Northampton Cathedral, in Barrack Road, and was led by Bishop Peter Doyle, the Bishop of Northampton.

Following the service, Fr Harris was interned at Kingsthorpe Cemetery.

The youngest of three children, Fr Harris was born on April 20, 1930, and his parents lived in Kingsley.

At the age of 10, Fr Harris was sent to Ampleforth, in North Yorkshire, as his mother had insisted on a Catholic education. He had planned on joining the Army, but following his education, he felt the calling to the priesthood.

He was ordained at Northampton Cathedral in June 1955 by Bishop Leo Parker.

He worked in five parishes, the last of which was St Gregory’s. He oversaw the design and fitting of a rose window and a tapestry behind the altar. But during the latter’s installation, he was knocked off a ladder and suffered severe head and hip injuries, affecting his quality of life.

Following retirement, a parishioner cared for him for seven years, before he moved to Nazareth House care home. Here he continued to carry out his duties as a priest, including holding daily mass, a Rosary group and Holy Hour.

The first parish for Fr Harris was in Aylesbury St Augustine in 1955, moving on to High Wycombe in 1960 and Rushden St Peter’s in 1965. During his 11 years in Rushden, he found a church and presbytery in desperate need of repair. He left his mark by having the church extended and re-roofed. He then served in Beaconsfield before moving back to Northampton in 1983. His friend, Tony Bull, said: “He was always a true, loyal and dedicated priest, ready to help those in need. May he rest in peace.”

 

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