News Centre

Fr Thomas John Quinn RIP

It is with sadness that we announce the death, peacefully in his sleep during the night of 1st August 2019, at the Whittington Hospital, of Fr Tom Quinn.

Born in March 1943 and ordained to the priesthood in May 1975, Fr Tom retired from full time parish ministry to live at Nazareth House, East Finchley last year.

Fr Tom's body will be received into the Church of St John Fisher, Shepperton (TW17 0DH) at 4pm on Monday 2nd September. Mass will be celebrated by Bishop John Sherrington at 7.30pm.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 12 noon on Tuesday 3rd September by the Cardinal. Fr John Cunningham will preach.

The burial will take place at 2.30pm on Wednesday 4th September in Droylsden Cemetery in Manchester.

Clergy wishing to concelebrate are asked to inform Fr Shaun Richards (shepperton@rcdow.org.uk, 01932 563116) at St John Fisher Church and bring white diocesan vestments. 

Sympathy is extended to Fr Tom’s family, friends, colleagues and former parishioners, and to the Sisters and residents of Nazareth House.

Obituary 

Before a priest reaches his seventy-fifth birthday he is required to write to his Bishop to offer resignation from ecclesiastical office, and to retire. Priests sometimes ask if they can remain in their current appointments, and this Fr Tom did when he wrote to Cardinal Vincent in February 2018, a month before turning 75. Fr Tom’s request was granted, to his delight and that of the parishioners at Shepperton. However, seven months later Fr Tom wrote again to let the Cardinal know that due to a rapid deterioration of his health he asked to stand down. ‘My health has deteriorated to the point where I can no longer shoulder the responsibility of a parish’, he wrote. His letter was accompanied by a medical report. The Cardinal accepted Fr Tom’s request, thanking him for all he had done while in active ministry and acknowledging Fr Tom’s wisdom in coming to his decision. In September 2018 Fr Tom went to live at Nazareth House, East Finchley where he quickly felt at home, and secure. He was popular among fellow residents and the Sisters and staff. Over the next few months, Fr Tom’s health continued to deteriorate, despite the medical attention he received at Nazareth House and at the Royal Free and Whittington Hospitals. He died peacefully in his sleep at the Whittington Hospital at the beginning of August.

Born on 20th March 1943 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester Tom Quinn was educated at St Willibrord’s Catholic School in Clayton, Manchester. After some years of employment locally, as a wages clerk and also as a watchmaker and jeweller, he felt called to the priesthood and was accepted for formation by the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in 1968. Tom’s novitiate was in Leicester. He went on to study alongside diocesan seminarians at Allen Hall in Ware, Hertfordshire. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10th May 1975 in Liverpool. His ministry in Liverpool was effective. He was a sought-after confessor and he ministered to a wide range of people in the city, including Travellers. He became known as the ‘Gypsy Priest’. He also ministered in Glasgow and Dublin. Within a few years, he decided to take some time out from active ministry, being unsure of his true vocation. He set up home in Dublin. He then went to live and work in Aberdeen. After nine years of personal vocational discernment, he decided that he should resume priestly ministry. In 1988 the Provincial Superior of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers wrote to Cardinal Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, to ask if Fr Tom could be given a placement in the diocese to live and work with a priest who would help with continuing discernment. In preparation for this Fr Tom undertook to do the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius in Wales while living in a presbytery. Fr Tom’s continuing discernment included working as a driving instructor in Colwyn Bay, to the surprise of his religious superiors!

Fr Tom’s desire to resume priestly life and ministry was recognised and supported by the Diocese of Westminster. He went to live in parish accommodation at Cockfosters. He then assisted in the parish of St Peter’s, South Hatfield for eighteen months. In September 1990 Cardinal Hume wrote to Fr Tom to confirm his appointment as assistant priest at St Anselm’s, Southall. While at Southall Fr Tom requested to be incardinated as a priest of the diocese, and this was widely welcomed. Fr Tom’s gentle, open and sympathetic manner earned him an excellent reputation in his pastoral work. He had great empathy with people who had personal difficulties, on occasion becoming personally involved due to his generosity of spirit. Priests with whom Fr Tom lived and worked saw in him a kind and thoughtful colleague, with a deep spiritual life and easy to get on with. Fr Tom was incardinated by Cardinal Hume in a simple ceremony at Archbishop’s House on 29th September 1992. He remained at Southall until 1994 when he was appointed Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary, Staines. In 1997 Fr Tom was appointed Parish Priest at Ss Peter and Paul, Northfields. His only sibling, John, died suddenly in December 2005 at the age of 60. This was unexpected and caused much sadness to Fr Tom. Fr Tom’s next appointment was to St Mary and St Michael, Commercial Road in 2010 where he remained until 2013 when he was appointed Parish Priest at St John Fisher, Shepperton.

When Fr Tom arrived in Shepperton to take up residence and to begin his ministry there he arrived with just three carrier bags of personal belongings. He was asked by a parishioner if he needed help to bring the rest of his possessions. Responding with a smile he said ‘I have everything here.’ Fr Tom was a man and priest who lived simply, without extravagance in any form. His clothes came from charity shops and jumble sales. He remained close to his sister-in-law and his two nephews after the death of his beloved brother. Parishioners of the parishes where Fr Tom served will remember him for his warmth, kindness and, approachability. He was patient and tolerant of others. He gave people the gift of his time, generously. In his ministry, he gave priority to the sick and suffering, and the dying and bereaved. He had an easy rapport with young people and served as their Chaplain on the diocesan pilgrimages to Lourdes. Visits to HMP Bronzefield were a feature of Fr Tom’s weekly schedule, as was a game of golf before the decline of his health. He became an easily recognisable figure and well known to parishioners and the wider community in Shepperton, perhaps in part due to his imposing height and unkempt shoulder-length hair. His wish was to return to Shepperton for his funeral Mass and for his mortal remains to be taken back to Manchester for burial.

As Fr Tom said with warmth and kindness at the conclusion of many conversations, we now say to him, ‘Wish you well’, as we pray in thanksgiving for his life and ministry and now for the repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.