Obituary of Deacon John Woodruff

Stalwart of St Luke's, Whiston mourned

Deacon Jack Woodruff died on Friday 27 December. He was 87 years of age and was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1996.

John Woodruff, always known as Jack, was born in 1932 and baptised in St Francis de Sales Church in Walton. He went to school in St Monica's, Bootle, where he was confirmed, and continued his education at Bootle Technical College and the College of Commerce in Liverpool, pursuing a career in sales.

He married Margaret Kearns in St Aloysius, Huyton in 1959 and they brought up their four daughters, Lesley, Gillian, Carolyn and Therese. Both Jack and Margaret were committed to the Lay Apostolate in Whiston, Prescot and Rainhill, through the Legion of Mary, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Knights of St Columba, Marriage Encounter, Engaged Encounter and Christian Life Communities. Jack read widely and studied hard to equip himself for this range of ministries.

He began formation for the diaconate in 1985 but withdrew from the programme the following year because of family responsibilities. In 1993 he was able to resume his studies and he was ordained in 1996, serving St Luke's parish, Whiston with the same cheerful energy that he had brought to his lay ministry. As required on reaching the age of 75 in 2007 Jack offered his resignation but was given permission to continue because he and Margaret were excited about the way in which the local Church was moving through the Leaving Safe Harbours process and he felt they could give two or three more years of service, which they did with great enthusiasm.

Jack eventually retired in 2010 but kept very much in touch with everything that was going on. Both he and Margaret experienced failing health in recent years, but Jack remained alert and active throughout his final illness. He was in Whiston hospital for a few weeks before Christmas and died on Friday 27 December.

His Funeral Mass was celebrated at St Luke the Evangelist, Whiston on Wednesday 15 January by Bishop John Rawsthorne.