Father Joe Weston, parish priest of St Benedict, Hindley for over 27 years, died at home on Thursday 30 April. He was aged 85 and died just a few weeks short of his Diamond Jubilee of Ordination which he would have celebrated on 12 June.
Joseph Denis Weston, the son of Francis and Mary Weston, was born in Liverpool on 11 December 1934. He attended St Dominic’s School, Huyton and St Paul’s, West Derby before training for the priesthood at St Joseph’s College, Upholland. On 12 June 1960 he was ordained to the priesthood at St Dominic’s, Huyton by his uncle, Bishop Joseph Gerald Holland SMA, Bishop Emeritus of Keta.
He served in a number of parishes as assistant priest: Saints Peter and Paul, Crosby from November 1960; St Malachy, Liverpool in 1964 and then in St Joseph, Kirkby later that year; St Anne, Liverpool from February 1973 and St Vincent, Derbyshire Hill from July 1975.
In January 1981 he was appointed parish priest at St Alban’s, Warrington. This was a period of significant change for the town-centre parishes as the Benedictine presence reduced. It was during his tenure that St Alban’s was clustered with the parish of Sacred Heart. With the support of a team of curates, some of them fresh from ordination, he was able to be quite innovative in his pastoral approach amid the changes.
He saw the great importance of community spirit, something he fostered at home in the presbytery as well as in the wider parish. Thus he regarded parish clubs as being integral to parish life; not just as places for people to socialise, but also as places for outreach and evangelisation. His wide contacts with the local community meant he was highly esteemed not only by parishioners but by many of other faiths.
In August 1992 he moved to another former Benedictine parish with his appointment as parish priest at St Benedict’s, Hindley. This would be his home for the remainder of his life. Here he continued to serve faithfully the pastoral needs of his parishioners. Between 2002 and 2011 he assumed additional pastoral responsibility for the parish of Sacred Heart, Hindley Green.
In his younger days he had something of a flair for football and played centre-half for the priests’ team in the Archdiocese. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon presided at his funeral service at Howe Bridge Crematorium on Friday 22 May.