Fr David Henry Palmer died peacefully on 22nd December at Atfield House Care Home, Isleworth where he had been receiving nursing and residential care since 23rd November.
Fr David was born in Kettering in February 1933 and ordained as a Catholic priest on 1st November 1996 by Cardinal Basil Hume in Westminster Cathedral.
Sympathy is extended to Fr David’s family and friends, and to the clergy and parishioners of the parishes where he ministered the Diocese, and to those among whom he ministered in this country and as Chaplain to Embassies in Turkey and Italy, as an Anglican priest.
Bishop John Sherrington will preside at the Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows and Sr Bridget of Sweden church, Isleworth, on Wednesday 13th January at 11am. Canon Gerard King will preach. Fr David’s mortal remains will be brought to the church the previous evening at 8pm. Cremation at Mortlake Crematorium will follow the Funeral Mass and Fr David’s ashes will be interred in his parents’ grave in Kettering in due course. Due to restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic the congregation at the Funeral Mass will be limited to 30 people.
Fr David Palmer was very pleased, and grateful, that he was accepted for ordination as a Catholic priest following his resignation from ministry as an Anglican and his Reception as a Catholic. At the age of 63 he was ordained on 1st November 1996 in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Basil Hume. This was his fourth ordination, having been ordained as a deacon and priest (on 24th May 1959) in the Church of England, and then in the Catholic Church! He, and several others, left the Church of England following their dismay at the decision to ordain women to the priesthood, a break with tradition and without the authority for such a decision. Cardinal Hume insisted that Fr David was associated with a particular parish while being available for supply ministry more widely. That parish was Our Lady of Sorrows and St Bridget of Sweden, Isleworth. Fr David, wise and experienced in ministry, and gentle in his manner, became the pastor to many individuals and families, and a source of support for many priests in Hounslow deanery when assistance was needed. He lived in his own modest home on Manor House Way in Isleworth parish until four weeks before the end of his life when his needs necessitated moving to a care home. There he received the Sacrament of the Sick in preparation for his journey to the Lord whom he knew, loved and served as a Christian minister of compassion and mercy in the Anglican church and in the Catholic Church in this country and overseas.
Born on 9th February 1933 in Kettering, Northamptonshire David Palmer had one brother, Richard, who predeceased him. David was educated at Kettering Grammar School before going to the University of Bristol to study French and English from 1951-54. The course included a period of study at the Sorbonne in Paris. He then did two years of national service with the Royal Artillery. In 1956 he went to Lincoln Theological College as an Anglican ordinand. Following ordination to the diaconate he served at St John’s, East Dulwich and remained there as Assistant Curate until 1962 when he moved to the parish of All saints in Peterborough. He was then appointed Vicar of Holy Trinity, Northampton where he served from 1968-74. His next appointment was as Chaplain to the British embassy in Turkey where he remained from 1974-77. This was followed by seven years of service as a Chaplain to the British embassy in Rome while serving as Vicar of All Saints in the Eternal City. He thoroughly enjoyed his time in Rome, including ecumenical engagement, and he learned to speak Italian. 1978 was particularly eventful and memorable – the year of three Popes, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. In 1984 he returned to the UK, taking up appointment as Vicar of St Matthias, Brighton where he served from 1984-88. His next appointment was Vicar of the united parishes of SS Peter and Paul and SS Michael and George, Teddington from 1988-95. During this time he served for six years as Commissary of the Bishop of Gibraltar and for five years as the Area Dean of Hampton. A varied and rich experience of ministry until he made the decision to resign from Anglican ministry, leave the Church of England and join the Catholic Church. He was Received into the Church on 13th January 1996.
For twenty four years as a Catholic priest living in, and ministering in and from, Isleworth Fr David become very well known and much loved. He brought stability amid several changes of priests in the parish over these years. He was meticulous in all that he did, taking pleasure in attending to detail and treating people with kindness and respect. Unassuming, he earned the respect of all, and the gratitude of priests and parishioners for his dependability and his generosity of spirit providing supply cover well into his 80s.
Fr David’s leisure interests included art, architecture, history, the natural world and travel, spending time and having adventures with close friends, especially the late Mgr John Klyberg. Holidays in various countries, including all those mentioned in St Paul’s letters, enabled them to share good food, wine and conversation together and with those who joined their company. Annual lengthy letters to family, friends and colleagues were sent with cards at Christmas. Recipients enjoyed reading accounts of John’s latest escapades, shot through with humour. Fr David looked forward to, and enjoyed, annual gatherings with his sister in law and family before Christmas when gifts were exchanged. Fr David was upset that due to poor health he was unable to attend the funeral of his great friend and companion Mgr Klyberg who died on 16 January last year. Fr David died peacefully on 22nd December 2020, aged 87. Now, we pray that they are reunited and sharing in the divine liturgy of heaven.
The Entrance Antiphon for Mass on 22nd December was ‘O gates, lift high your heads; grow higher, ancient doors. Let him enter, the king of glory!’ We pray for the repose of Fr David’s soul, that he pass safely through the gates of Heaven to share the fullness of life:
Lord Jesus, our Redeemer,
you willingly gave yourself up to death so that all people might be saved and pass from death into a new life.
Listen to our prayers, look with love on your people who mourn and pray for Fr David.
Lord Jesus, holy and compassionate, forgive his sins.
By dying you opened the gates of life for those who believe in you.
Do not let our brother be parted from you, but by your glorious power give him light, joy and peace in heaven
where you live for ever and ever.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.