Saturday, 2 July 2011

Father Pat's Obituary

Canon Alfred Patrick Pearson was born on 16th April 1932 in Brockley, only son of Alfred and Mary. He was encouraged by Fr Norman Gillett of Forest Hill to discern his vocation, and attended Mark Cross before studying at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh. The Reverend ‘Alfred’ Pearson was ordained priest on 23rd May 1959 in the Seminary Chapel along with six others from his year, by Bishop Cyril Cowderoy. Fr Alfred preferred his middle name, and was usually called Paddy by those who knew him.
Fr Pearson’s first priestly appointment was to the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, Lee, where he was to remain for nearly ten years. Records indicate that he was next appointed to the parish of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, in Canterbury, on his tenth anniversary, 23rd May 1969. He was in Canterbury for just under a year and a half, before being appointed in October 1970 to another church of Saint Thomas of Canterbury, this time in Sevenoaks.
In August 1975 Fr Paddy was appointed as Parish Priest to Saint Simon Stock Parish, Walderslade. His ministry was very much appreciated in the Parish, as was shown in a letter to the Archbishop, shortly after it had been announced Paddy was to be moved. The letter referred to Fr Paddy’s ‘marvellous work’ and how stunned the people felt when they heard of the ‘terrible decision’ that would move him away from Walderslade to the parish of Saint Henry and Saint Elizabeth, on the Isle of Sheppey.
He took up his new appointment as Parish Priest in April 1978, and at the same time took on the duties of Dean of the Chatham Deanery, a role he undertook for nearly six years. In 1983 towards the end of his second term as Dean, Paddy wished to stand down as Dean, and asked the Deanery clergy not to put his name forward. However, the majority of clergy in the deanery ignored this request; after much thought and with regret and he wrote to the Archbishop to decline the role, due in part to the poor health of his father. During his time at Sheerness he celebrated his silver jubilee, and in a note to the Archbishop he wrote that he was “looking forward to my ‘Golden’ ”, a milestone he reached recently.
In 1984 a series of meetings took place in the diocese introducing ‘Ministry to Priests’. Paddy was unable to attend his local meeting due to surgery, but he wrote to the Archbishop with his thoughts. He believed “that something needs to be done to encourage priests who are shy and / or lonely”, but he favoured ‘Jesus Caritas Fraternals’. He concluded his letter saying “Nevertheless I would vote for the scheme if it were flexible and there were priests who would find it a source of support in the lives.” The Archbishop listened carefully to Paddy’s comments, so much that he made Paddy a Team Member in the
Ministry to Priests programme. He went on later to serve five years on the On-Going Formation Team.
Fr Paddy spent nearly eight and a half years on Sheppey, and was key in the process of restoring the parish buildings “to edifices of which we [the diocese] can be proud”.
In September 1986 Fr Paddy was appointed as Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Parish, Bromley, a post he was to hold for twenty years until his retirement in the summer of 2006. In March 2000 the Archbishop appointed Paddy as a Chapter Canon; he felt “honoured” by the appointment, he wrote that “it is awe inspiring to be asked to contribute to the deliberations of the Chapter”.
After his retirement he moved to live near the Cathedral, and was a great support to the Dean and Cathedral staff, regularly celebrating Mass and hearing confessions. At Easter of 2010 Canon Paddy suffered a stroke, and made a very good recovery. Soon after he moved to a flat next to the presbytery in Petts Wood, to be closer to the many friends he had made in Bromley.
Canon Paddy was a priest of great generosity and hospitality. He had a great care for his brother priests, especially those who worked with him as curates, and frequently entertained very generously – often at his club, the Overseas League. He died of a heart attack on Thursday 23rd June 2011, at his flat in Petts Wood, aged 79 years, in the 53rd year of his priesthood.  
May he rest in peace.

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