Obituary of Monsignor Canon James Commins

Born 20 May 1919 – Ordained 11 June 1944 – Died 6 November 2016

Former parish priest of Sacred Heart, Wigan, Monsignor Canon James Commins died on Sunday 6 November aged 97 and in the 73rd year of his priesthood.

James Bernard Commins was born on 20 May 1919, the son of James and Mary Commins. He was educated at Rockwell College in Corbel, County Tipperary and then at St Patrick's College, Tipperary. He was ordained priest at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles on 11 June 1944.

He subsequently served as assistant priest in four parishes of the Liverpool Archdiocese: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Liverpool in 1944; St James, Bootle in 1955; St Anthony, Liverpool in 1963; and St Gregory, Chorley in 1966. In September 1968 he was appointed parish priest at St Mary, Mother of God, Kirkby, a parish that had only been established ten years previously.

His final, and most significant, parish appointment was as parish priest of Sacred Heart, Wigan from May 1977 until his retirement in October 1997. To all of these appointments he brought his characteristic devotion and care, and he was greatly respected by his fellow priests.

In 1974 he became a canon of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter and the following year secretary to the Chapter, an office he held until 2004. Gradually he began to play a more significant role in the financial administration of the Archdiocese. When Archbishop Derek Worlock established a vicariate for finance and development in 1977, James Commins became a member of the first finance advisory committee.

In 1990 he was appointed as the first chairman of the assessment fund, a voluntary system set up in the Archdiocese whereby poorer parishes could receive financial assistance. Following his retirement from parish ministry in 1997 he continued with this committee work, and also joined the committee of the George Andrew Fund, established in memory of Archbishop Beck to provide for the healthcare of priests and their provision in retirement.

In 2004 he stepped down from the finance advisory committee and the George Andrew Fund, but continued for a further two years chairing the assessment fund committee. He therefore contributed nearly 30 years' service in the financial oversight of the Archdiocese. For these outstanding services he was named a Prelate of Honour by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

In retirement he lived successively at St Joseph's, Wrightington; at St George's Court, Maghull; and latterly at James Nugent Court, Liverpool.

His Funeral Mass was celebrated at St George's Church, Maghull on Friday 18 November followed by burial at St Joseph's, Wrightington.