It is with sadness that we share the news of the death of Fr Barry Ffrench on 1st October 2019.
Fr Barry was born in October 1936 and ordained to the priesthood, as an Oblate of St Charles, on 24th May 1962. He was later incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Westminster, along with some other former Oblates of St Charles. He retired to live in Ireland, the land of his birth, in 2004. He died peacefully in the Moyne Nursing Home, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, where he had been living, with the local Parish Priest at his bedside.
The Funeral Mass for Fr Barry was celebrated at St Brigid's Church, Askamore on Friday 4th October at 12 noon, with the Bishop of Ferns, Rt Rev Denis Brennan presiding.
Sympathy is extended to Fr Barry’s family, friends and former parishioners, and to the staff and residents of the Moyne Nursing Home.
We pray in thanksgiving for his life and ministry, and now for the repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.
Barry Ffrench came from Rosslare, County Wexford in Ireland. He was born on 23 October 1936 and ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Godfrey in Westminster Cathedral on 24 May 1962. He returned to his home county to live in retirement and later in a nursing home where he died peacefully on 1 October 2019. His Funeral Mass took place at St Brigid’s Church, Askamore on 4 October with the Bishop of Ferns, Rt Rev Denis Brennan presiding and preaching, with representation from the Diocese of Westminster.
Fr Barry died on the annual day dedicated to the memory of St Therese of the Child Jesus, and was buried on the day dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. His formation for priesthood, and the early years of his ministry, was as an Oblate of St Charles. The Oblates were founded as an English institute of diocesan priests in 1857, with a rule of life based on that kept by the Oblates of Milan, founded by St Charles Borromeo. The Oblates lived as communities of priests dedicated to the ministry and mission of the local Church, including pastoral work and the education of children and young people.
Following his ordination to the priesthood Fr Barry was appointed Assistant Priest at St Mary of the Angels, Bayswater from 1962 to 1964. His next appointment, as Assistant Priest, was to St Francis of Assisi, Notting Hill where he remained until 1966 before returning to Bayswater. From 1967 to 1969, Fr Barry served as Priest in Charge at Our Lady of Sorrows, Paddington. He then took on the role of Assistant Priest at Our Lady of Lourdes, New Southgate, until his appointment as Diocesan Youth Chaplain, based at London Colney, from 1973 to 1976. From here, Fr Barry became Parish Priest at St John the Baptist, Hackney where he remained until 1983. Fr Barry then moved to Yeading where he was appointed Parish Priest at St Raphael’s. In 2003 Fr Barry went on sabbatical leave but health issues necessitated retirement from full time parish ministry the following year. He returned to Ireland where he gave much-valued assistance in the local parish and was close to members of his family. On 25 May 2012 Fr Barry celebrated his Golden Jubilee of ordination with a Mass and party at St Brigid’s, Askamore. He was delighted to be joined by the retired Archbishop of Westminster, the late Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Fr Barry’s 80th birthday was marked with Mass and a party at Askamore on 23 October 2016. Fr Barry always loved a party! Fr Barry gave pastoral support in Askamore for 12 years until failing health prevented further public ministry. He continued to celebrate Mass privately in his home. However, with the advance of years and deteriorating health, Fr Barry’s needs required additional care, and he took up residence at The Moyne Nursing Home, Enniscorthy. There Fr Barry was well cared for and secure, with many regular visitors.
Many people will treasure their memories of Fr Barry, ‘a people’s priest’. During his years of active ministry, he was known for the warmth of welcome and hospitality extended to family, friends, brother priests and parishioners. He was a friend to everyone, especially the young and less fortunate. At his Funeral Mass children from three local schools formed a guard of honour. People of all ages expressed their sadness at the loss of a much-loved priest, and shared their stories of his engagement with them. He was attentive and responsive to people’s needs, and was seldom unavailable to callers. In his prime Fr Barry attracted people to the Church, and he had a winning way with children and young people. There were many altar servers and members of uniformed groups in his parishes and parish youth clubs flourished. The pilgrimages he organised, to Lourdes and to Rome, attracted young adults and he inspired them in their faith and commitment to the Church. As Diocesan Youth Chaplain his commitment to young people had a lasting influence on many. He was known to be a sympathetic confessor. For many years he had a dog, favouring spaniels. While in Yeading he named his dog Pod, the name by which a popular Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Pat O’Donoghue, was known. This brought amusement to the late Cardinal Basil Hume who enjoyed Fr Barry’s sense of humour, as did so many people over the years.
Fr Barry will be fondly remembered by parishioners and friends alike, and missed by all who knew him. At the Funeral Mass a message from Cardinal Vincent Nichols was read to the congregation: ‘…We pray that our Blessed Lord will bring this faithful servant of His to His Heavenly Father, so that he might enfold him in His mercy and ensure eternal rest in His loving presence.’ May he rest in peace.