With sadness we announce the death of Fr John Miller on 25th October 2020. Fr John died peacefully at Barnet Hospital following admission earlier in the month.
Fr John was born in north London on 19th January 1923 and ordained to the priesthood 67 years ago on 30th May 1953 by Cardinal Bernard Griffin in Westminster Cathedral.
Sympathy is extended to Fr John’s family and friends, and to the clergy and parishioners of his former parishes in the diocese.
The Funeral Mass will take place in accordance with the protocols necessary due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Paul McAleenan will preside and Fr John Cunningham will give the homily at the Funeral Mass on Monday 9th November at 1pm at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph, Waltham Cross. All are welcome to join the live stream at www.churchservices.tv/walthamcross.
Born in North London on 19th January 1923 and ordained to the priesthood on 30th May 1953, Fr John Miller was the fifteenth priest of the Diocese to be called to Heaven in 2020, and the oldest at 97 years of age. This obituary will be published in the 2021 edition of the Westminster Year Book.
John Miller was born and brought up in Finchley. He was educated at Finchley Catholic Grammar School until he was 16. Having left school John worked for Standard Telephones and Cables from 1939-41 when he took employment elsewhere until he began service with the Army in 1945. In 1949 John began formation for the priesthood as a student for the Diocese of Westminster at St Edmund’s College, Ware, in Hertfordshire.
John was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Bernard William Griffin in Westminster Cathedral. Fr John’s first appointment was to the parish of Our Lady Refuge of Sinners and St Catherine of Siena, Bow where he served as Assistant Priest from 1953-54, when he was appointed Assistant Priest at Our Lady Help of Christians, Kentish Town, where he remained until 1966 and his appointment to St Lawrence, Feltham. Coupled with his duties as Assistant Priest, Fr John served as Chaplain to the local young offenders’ prison and for two years he was the Hounslow Borough Commissioner for Scouts. His next appointment was Parish Priest at St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs, Royston, where he served from 1972-76. From 1976 to 1986, Fr John was Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and St Joseph, Waltham Cross. Throughout this time, he served as Dean of Lea Valley Deanery. He was then appointed Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Assumption, Potters Bar, where he remained for 13 years until his retirement from full time parish ministry in 1999 at the age of 76, having been asked to stay at Potters Bar to assist with changes to the organisation of the parish. While at Potters Bar, Fr John was appointed Dean in 1989 and during the period of the late Bishop Jim O’Brien’s absence due to illness, Fr John was asked to oversee pastoral life in Hertfordshire and be a point of reference for the clergy. He served as Secretary to the Senate (now Council) of Priests from 1983-91 while at Waltham Cross and Potters Bar. In retirement, Fr John was called upon to supply in various parishes, covering for priests at times of holiday or sickness.
Fr John was a good leader of people in his parishes, giving firm direction and with a common touch. He was respected by people of all ages and backgrounds, treating everyone equally and always ready to see situations from the others’ perspective. He was easy company among friends, especially at meals that ended with a cigarette and, always in moderation, a glass of Crème de Menthe. Genial and with a good sense of humour, he never seemed to be unduly anxious or troubled. He was comfortable in his own skin. Cars and motorbikes were a passion of Fr John’s. His presbytery kitchens doubled as workshops for repairs to his vehicles, cooking oil and motor oil sharing the same shelf! He was gifted at do-it-yourself jobs and solving problems both pastoral and mechanical. In his later years he came to depend on his electric mobility scooter and treasured the independence provided, and he treasured living independently in his flat provided by the Diocese on Oakleigh Road North in Whetstone. Fr John was a familiar figure in the local area, an area he loved. Visits to the shops for groceries and essentials such as the daily newspaper kept him going, as did the companionship of close friends. He had a special place in his heart for the parish of Waltham Cross, making known his desire for his Funeral Mass to take place there and his chalice to be gifted to the parish. In recent years Fr John’s physical health began to deteriorate, but he remained strong-willed and determined to maintain his independence. His mind remained alert and his spirit lively.
We pray for the repose of Fr John’s soul:
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 John.
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 the soul of this long-serving and faithful priest rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.