Father Brian Coogan MHM Has Died. R.I.P.

It is with regret that we inform you of the death on the 16th day of March, 2023 at 2.15 in the morning in Herbert House, Freshfield, Liverpool, England at the age of 99 years of        

Father Brian Coogan

Mill Hill Missionary

May he rest in peace

Brian was born on the 7th of February, 1924 in the district of Saint Helens, Liverpool, England. He was baptised in his local parish in the Diocese of Liverpool, before his family moved to Bradford. Brian’s father, a teacher, was John Coogan, and his mother, Mary Coogan, nee Wood. Brian was one of three children, the other two were Brian’s sisters.

               From 1934 to 1940 Brian studied at St. Bede’s Grammar School in Bradford. Feeling called to the missionary priesthood, he completed his Secondary Education Certificate at Saint Peter’s College, Freshfield, Liverpool in the summer of 1941. Since these were the years of the second world-war, Brian continued his education for priesthood first at Burn Hall near Durham (1941-1943), then proceeded to Saint Joseph’s College, Lochwinnoch in Scotland (1943-1945) [the junior seminary had been expanded to include senior students too]. In 1945, as World-War II ended, all the senior students were returned to Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, for the study of Theology and associated subjects. As his studies came to completion, Brian took the Perpetual Oath in the Chapel of St. Joseph’s, Mill Hill, on the 18th of July, 1946. On the 6th of July, the following year, he was ordained a priest in the Chapel of St. Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, at the hands of Cardinal Bernard William Griffin of the Archdiocese of Westminster, London.

               The Leadership Council of the Mill Hill Missionaries were quick to recognise Brian’s aptitude for studies. His first given appointment was to Cambridge University to study Latin and French. Brian graduated BA (Hons) in 1950. He then followed a Post-graduate Certificate of Education programme. The following year, he was appointed to the “Mission” at Jesselton in North Borneo, now Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. He arrived there by P&O Liner on Christmas Eve and immediately started hearing confessions! By 1958, he was elected Society Superior of that area by his fellow Mill Hillers. Barely a decade into his appointment in North Borneo, Brian was appointed onto the teaching staff at Saint Peter’s College, Freshfield, in 1960. There he stayed until June 1972, when the future of our Junior College was being considered afresh. It was then that Brian was released, on compassionate grounds, to work in a parish in Basingstoke in the Diocese of Portsmouth where he served for 14 years. From there, in 1986, he moved to Saint David’s Parish, East Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, where he remained for 27 years. In October 2013 Brian accepted a Diocesan appointment to work as a semi-retired priest at Saint Patrick’s Parish, Sandown, also on the Isle of Wight. He had been made feel welcome there by the local people and by Fr Joe, the parish priest. He lived in a bungalow behind the Church of St Patrick in Sandown. He converted one room into a chapel, with the Blessed Sacrament. Brian was truly a man of prayer. He hosted a regular ‘Desert Day’ for a small group of people in his house, beginning with the Mass, followed by a period of silence, and concluding with a soup-lunch. Brian promoted the Charismatic Renewal wherever he went. The movement became particularly strong in East Cowes, and he tried joining the prayer group whenever he could every Saturday morning.

               Among the many personal interests of Brian was yoga, which he practiced daily until the end of his very long life. Another great source of pleasure was music; especially singing and playing the piano. The singing part he had to tone down, since he had such a strong, powerful and booming voice that he would drown out others in the choir! He was a painter too. He was a great lover of chess, and took the game very seriously while at play with a particular fellow Mill Hiller. Challenged by advanced age and his fragile health, Brian eventually agreed with the recommendation of the leadership to retire to Herbert House, Freshfield towards the 2nd half of last year, after having served in the Diocese of Portsmouth for 50 years. Recently, he had been challenged by a heart problem. A few days ago he started receiving palliative care and eventually joined his Creator at 2.15 in the morning of 16th March 2023. A Requiem Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on 27th March 2023 at the Chapel in Herbert House, Freshfield after which his remains will be laid to rest at our cemetery there.  May he rest in peace!

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