We bid farewell to our confrere Fr. Joseph Holmes MHM (83), who died on the 30th day of September at Herbert House, Liverpool.

Father Joseph Holmes

Mill Hill Missionary

May he rest in peace

Joe, as we Mill Hillers affectionately knew him, was born on the 27th of July, 1938 in the town of Dumfries in Scotland, in the Diocese of Galloway. He was Baptised on the 7th of August, 1938 in his local parish of Saint Andrew, also in Dumfries. It was here too that Joe received the sacrament of Confirmation in 1947. Joe’s father, also called Joseph, was a Railwayman, and his mother was Hannah Holmes, nee Lynch. Eventually, Joe was accompanied in his family by 4 brothers and 2 sisters.

            For part of his Secondary Education, Joe attended Saint Joseph’s High School in Dumfries (1951-1953). However, feeling a call to the missionary priesthood, he transferred to Saint Joseph’s College, Lochwinnoch (1953-1955), our Mill Hill Junior Seminary in Scotland. To complete his Secondary Education, Joe travelled to Burn Hall in Durham (1955-1957). Joe was then promoted to study philosophy and associated subjects at the Missiehuis in Roosendaal, Holland (1957-1959). To complete his preparation for priesthood, Joe continued his seminary studies at Saint Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London (1959-1963). As his training for priesthood was coming to an end, Joe took the Perpetual Oath to God in the Society on the 2nd of May, 1962. Just over a year later, on the 7th of July, 1963 he was Ordained a priest in St. Joseph’s College Chapel. As a first appointment, Joe was asked to follow further studies at Saint Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill, London, where he obtained a Post-Graduate Teacher Training Diploma.

            Since Joe had a great aptitude for teaching, his first appointment was followed by some years teaching in Lochwinnoch (1963), and then in Burn Hall (1967). To Joe’s delight, in 1969, he was appointed to the Diocese of Kisumu in Kenya. After only four years however, his talents we needed again in Lochwinnoch (1973). In May 1979, Joe received an appointment to work in Malakal, Sudan. Sadly, this appointment was cancelled. Instead, Joe followed a renewal course in Marianella, Dublin. By December 1980 Joe was on his way back to Kenya, this time to work in the new Diocese of Kakamega. After twelve years serving mostly in Mukumu Parish, Joe was given the opportunity of following a renewal course at the Institute of Saint Anselm in Kent (1992-1993). By November of 1993 Joe returned briefly to his beloved Kenya, to pack his personal belongings before taking up an appointment as Administrator of Burn Hall, which was in the process of being sold. He oversaw our Mill Hill transfer to Soane’s Byre in the grounds of Burn Hall, and helped establish our ‘Base’ in the North-East of England. Always willing to oblige the Society’s needs, in April 1997 Joe accepted an appointment as Administrator in Saint Joseph’s House, Cardonald, Glasgow, Scotland. There he remained until given permission to assist in his ‘Home’ Diocese of Galloway, specifically in the Parish at Annan on the border of Scotland and England.

            Eventually, due to failing health, Joe retired to a small house in Annan where he looked after himself and continued helping when he could. Further deterioration of health forced Joe to retire in August of this year to Herbert House in Liverpool. There, in the last days of his life, he was lovingly cared for by the Staff and local medical personnel. After a brief visit from his brother, Dennis, Joe passed away in the afternoon of the 30th of September, 2021. Joe’s requiem will take place in Scotland soon, where he will be buried beside his parents in the family plot. Funeral arrangements are currently been made by Joe’s family. “May the Angels lead you into Paradise. May the Martyrs come to welcome you…”