Tribute to priest of Weston Favell’s ‘pyramid’

Father Francis Calnan died at his home in weston Favell on March 15, aged 83.
Father Francis Calnan died at his home in weston Favell on March 15, aged 83.

A parish congregation is mourning the loss of a popular priest who helped build Weston Favell’s distinctive ‘pyramid’ church.

Father Francis Calnan died in his home on Saturday, aged 83, having served as parish priest of The Sacred Heart Church, Weston Favell for 38 years.

The Derbyshire-born man was ordained in 1957 and spent the majority of his priesthood serving the Roman Catholic community in Northampton.

Chairman of the parish group of Weston Favell, Gareth Davis, knew Fr Calnan for nearly 40 years.

He said: “He was one of those priests who was open to people’s ideas, he wanted people to have a go at doing things and making an active parish.”

In 1974, Fr Calnan oversaw the building of the striking pyramid-shaped church.

“We think the idea was to build something new,” Mr Davis, a lecturer at the University of Northampton said. “It’s got no structural pillars inside like other churches. It’s one big open space, which is what he wanted.”

Shortly after his ordination, Fr Francis joined a missionary project in Indonesia.

But he contracted malaria shortly after and was forced to return to the UK.

Taking over as parish priest at Weston Favell in 1976, he would later launch an annual congregation pilgrimage to Lourdes in France where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared. The pilgrimage is still going today.

In his spare time the priest was said to have been fond of golf and walking. He died in his home underneath the church he helpedto build, having never retired.

A statement from the parish congregation said he was a ‘true shepherd to his people’.