Fr Peter Coyle died a short while ago. He was one of my saints. I was the privileged one who said the prayer for the dying for him at the General Hospital. Just that afternoon he had been transferred from the Glenfield. Deacon John Parker brought him Holy Communion and then phoned me to ask if I would come for the final prayers.
I was saying mass (Monday evening) when the message was left but I went straight after mass and said the final prayers of blessing and peace. Fr John Cahill from St Peter’s joined me (he had also been called in case I did not receive the phone message) and he had his few quiet moments with Fr Peter.
Fr Peter suffered much during these past 30 years. He had been with our own Fr David Everitt in Zambia for five years and how much they had enjoyed that period in a Missionary diocese. But Peter contracted “black feet” and he was never free from its effects and the pain. Indeed, when I came to the diocese in Birstall in 1990 and attended my first deanery meeting with the local priests we prayed for Fr Peter because it seemed he would soon die – there was little hope.
But we were wrong! He made a wonderful recovery and slowly returned to full parish activity. He was good to know – good humoured, sharp minded, totally dedicated to God and the peoples of the parishes. Yet all the time suffering. He needed a leg amputation and spent time in the hospitals. When he was in the General how much I enjoyed visiting him, bringing him Holy Communion and talking about our lives as priests, about our people, the Church, about sport. He was so good.
How grateful we are to the people of Our Lady’s and St Edwards whom he served and who gave him much support. He and I would talk about the goodness and generosity of our people, their kindness, our being able to trust in their sympathy and support. As I now make my steady recovery surrounded and supported by all the help and encouragement I am being given, so I remember Fr Peter and the way he talked about the people of St Edwards. They made it possible for him to continue in the parish work he so loved, accepted the limitation of what he could do from a wheelchair and loved him. We, his fellow priests, are all grateful to St Edwards for what they did for Fr Peter.
Now you are doing it for me. I feel blessed. I know I am on a good road to recovery. I am blessed to be at home because the hospital thought I would be bound to need rehab: but when they heard how wonderfully the parish was ready for my coming home, the great preparations in the house and for my nursing care, they decided I could come home. So here I am.
Thank you and God bless you,
(13th August 2017)