Fr John Harvey Kershaw

First published on: 17th December 2020

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to Fr John Kershaw, vicar of St Hilda's Church, Audenshaw for the past 31 years who died  on 2 November after a long illness.

Fr John KershawHundreds of parishioners and friends expressed their sadness on local Facebook groups, offering condolences to his wife, sons and extended family. Many added personal tributes to the much-loved priest who was appointed to St Hilda's in November 1989.

Fr John will be remembered as "a big character in the community who touched so many lives"... "sympathetic, kind and funny" ..."a wonderful caring man ".."every time I saw him he always gave me a hug." Others recalled how Father John would go the extra mile to help: "He was a great pillar of strength for my mum when we went through some rough times..." "He was a great comfort even though I'm not a churchgoer.." “His kindness went above and beyond."

Fr John, 69, grew up in Rochdale and was a time-served electrical fitter with Norweb before training for the priesthood at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield.

Seventeen years in industry and 11 years as a churchwarden at St Luke's, Deeplish would stand him in good stead during his ministry, serving as a curate at St Margaret's, Hollinwood from 1986 and then taking charge of St Hilda's three years later.

Bill and Sandra Marston, the church's longest serving members remember how their ever-practical priest set about improving facilities in the dual purpose church and hall. "He was determined to make the building feel more welcoming to visitors,” said Sandra. 

During his early years in Audenshaw, Fr John was also a part-time chaplain at Tameside Hospital and a governor at Egerton Park School. He had a passion for Egyptian history and culture and visited the country many times. A keen member of the MG Owners Club, motoring and renovating old cars were among his other interests.

The funeral mass at St Hilda's was conducted by Bishop Mark Davies, who first met Fr John when they were students together at Mirfield. The Revd Roger Dixon, vicar of St Stephen's, Audenshaw and area dean of Ashton-under-Lyne, gave the address. Prayers were led by Fr Peter Hibbert.

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