Father Kevin Mulhearn, former RAF chaplain and parish priest of Saint Joseph's, Wrightington for over 30 years, died on Monday 20 June at the age of 89 and in the 63rd year of his priesthood.
Kevin James Francis Mulhearn was born in Liverpool on 12 August 1926, the son of John and Catherine Mulhearn. He attended St Teresa's School, Norris Green, and St Edward's College, Liverpool. Between April 1944 and January 1948 he served successively in the Royal Navy, the Fleet Air Arm and the King's Liverpool Regiment. After a few months at Campion House, Osterley he began studies for the priesthood at St Joseph's College, Upholland in September 1948. He was ordained priest by Archbishop William Godfrey on 12 June 1954 in the college chapel at Upholland.
In August 1954 he was appointed assistant priest at St Vincent's, Liverpool where he remained for four years. A brief curacy followed at St Mary's, Blackbrook, St Helens from 1958 until 1961, when he was invited to become a chaplain in the Royal Air Force. Although he entered the forces on a short-service commission, his aptitude for this kind of pastoral ministry was quickly recognised.
Monsignor John Roche, the vicar general for the RAF, writing to Archbishop Heenan in February 1963, commented that "he has proved to be very adaptable, a quality which is particularly necessary in a chaplain, and he is above all a fine priest", and he requested that Father Mulhearn be allowed to apply for a permanent commission. Archbishop Beck confirmed this arrangement upon his appointment in 1964 and so Fr Mulhearn served until 1977 as an RAF chaplain at the following bases: RAF Cosford (1961); RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus (1963); RAF Lyneham (1965); RAF Henlow (1968); RAF Muharraq, Bahrain (1970); RAF Laarbruch, Germany (1971); RAF Cosford (1974); RAF Brampton (1975) and RAF Halton (1976). He also had various tours of duty in Malaya, Hong Kong and the Gulf. In October 1977 he retired from the RAF with rank of group captain and then served for a few years in parishes in Bahrain and Qatar.
Upon his return to the Archdiocese, Fr Mulhearn took up his appointment as parish priest at St Joseph's, Wrightington in June 1981. He ministered there with great fidelity for well over 30 years until his retirement in September 2013. He continued to live at Wrightington in retirement until earlier this year, when his increasing frailty necessitated a move to Ince Blundell.
His funeral Mass was celebrated at St Joseph's, Wrightington on Thursday 30 June followed by interment in the churchyard.