With sadness, we announce the death, on Sunday 29th August, of Fr Colin Whatling. Fr Colin died peacefully at the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead where he received end of life care following transfer from the Whittington Hospital on 25th August.
Fr Colin was born on 20th July 1929 in Hull, East Yorkshire and ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Westminster on 6th April 1969 at the Sacred Heart Church, Hull, by Bishop John McClean, Bishop of Middlesbrough.
Sympathy is extended to Fr Colin’s family and friends, the staff and patients at the Marie Curie Hospice and to the clergy and parishioners of his former parishes in the diocese.
Fr Colin was a member of the Deceased Clergy Association.
Fr Colin's Funeral Mass will take place on Monday 13th September at 12 noon at Nazareth House, East Finchley. Bishop John Sherrington will preside. Because of the continuing concerns around Covid-19 and because of the vulnerability of residents at Nazareth House priests are asked not to attend, unless they have a strong desire to, but to pray for the repose of Fr Colin’s soul at the time of his Funeral Mass. Priests who do wish to attend are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fr Colin’s mortal remains will be taken to Hull for burial in the family grave.
Fr Colin died at the age of 92, outliving most of his contemporaries. Priests and parishioners who knew him recall their appreciation and respect for this reserved and self-effacing priest. He was grateful for the support given to him in his latter years, especially from long-standing friends and the priests and people at Heston parish where he lived in parish accommodation close to the church and presbytery in retirement and then the Sisters, staff and residents at Nazareth House in Finchley as his need for care increased.
Born in Hull on 20th July 1929 to his parents John and Lucy Whatling, Colin had three sisters. Educated locally, he was technically minded and a conscientious student. He left school at the age of 16 and found employment in a local electrical shop where he remained for eighteen months before joining the Royal Navy. In 18 years of service he rose through the ranks to become Chief Petty Officer. His career in the Navy brought him to many countries and he developed skills as a radio repair technician and then a computer maintenance engineer. He then went to work in Manchester for a couple of years putting to good use his technical skills with computers. In 1960 Colin was received into the Catholic Church and was Confirmed in Southwark Cathedral in February 1961.
Colin was accepted for formation as a student for the priesthood for the Diocese of Westminster and sent to Campion House in Osterley, the pre-seminary house of studies run by the Jesuits, in September 1961 when 32 years of age – a ‘late vocation’ at that time. In 1963 he went to Allen Hall Seminary in Ware, Hertfordshire. As a seminarian he attended to his studies diligently. He was softly-spoken and reserved but came to life at in-house plays and concerts, working behind the scenes on sound and lighting. Permission was given for him to return to his home city of Hull for ordination to the priesthood at Sacred Heart church, surrounded by family and friends. He was ordained by the Bishop of Middlesbrough, the Rt Rev John McClean, on 6th April 1969.
Fr Colin’s first appointment was to Muswell Hill where he served as Assistant Priest from 1969-71. He was then appointed Assistant Priest at Edmonton where he remained until 1974 and his appointment to St Charles Square. In 1977 Fr Colin was appointed Assistant Administrator at the Crusade of Rescue at St Charles Square. His next appointment took him to Poplar where he served as Assistant Priest from 1978-79 when he went to New Southgate as Assistant Priest. Fr Colin was appointed Parish Priest at West Hendon in 1982 and then Parish Priest at Shepherds Bush where he served from 1984-94. His next appointment was to Uxbridge, as Parish Priest, from 1994-2004.
Fr Colin was something of a loner, and always kind and polite in his dealings with others. He seems to have had doubts about his effectiveness as a Parish Priest, especially when it involved living and working with assistant priests. Perhaps this reflected his natural humility and reserve. He got on with his life and ministry with quiet dedication and faithfulness. Throughout his years of priestly ministry Fr Colin kept in contact with family and friends. His holiday periods were spent in Hull and in Tenby, south Wales, enjoying the coast and the sea. He also enjoyed photography, television and listening to opera music for relaxation.
Fr Colin retired, at the age of 75, moving from Uxbridge to live in Heston in September 2004. In a letter to the Cardinal he wrote ‘I agree with the policy of Parish Priests retiring at seventy-five since this seems to be the right time for me. I find that I can no longer easily manage to administer a parish and parishioners’. He undertook supply ministry, covering for local priests during their holidays and other absences. A Parish Priest who benefitted from Fr Colin’s services commented that, unlike the ships he had sailed in, he never caused a ripple or left a wake behind him. Increasing need of care necessitated moving from west London to Nazareth House in Finchley in July 2020. Fr Colin felt safe and secure in Nazareth House and, because of the covid pandemic, took his meals alone in his room. He enjoyed his own company and was grateful for the full nursing care he received.
Fr Colin died peacefully at the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead on 29th August having been transferred from the Whittington Hospital for end of life care. He had made known his wish to have his Funeral Mass in London and his mortal remains brought home to Hull for burial with his parents.
May this humble and faithful priest rest in peace and rise in glory.
We pray for the repose of his soul:
Almighty and eternal God,
hear our prayers for Fr Colin whom you have called from this world to yourself.
Grant him light, happiness and peace.
Let him pass in safety through the gates of death, and live forever with all your saints in the light you promised to Abraham and to all his descendants in faith.
Guard him from all harm,
and on that great day of resurrection and reward raise him up with all your saints.
Pardon his sins and give him eternal life in your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord, and may he rest in peace.