Obituary of Rev Desmond Power

Father Desmond Power, who has died aged 91, was well known both as a teacher and as a priest. He spent nearly 30 years teaching as a Brother of Christian Instruction (De La Mennais Brother) at schools in Shropshire, Southampton and Liverpool, before taking Holy Orders.

As a teacher he specialised in French and English. His former pupils speak very highly of him as an excellent teacher with a great sense of humour and always ready with an anecdote or two, characteristics that he would maintain in his later ministry as a parish priest. He was very active, too, in promoting exchange visits between France and England for both pupils and Brothers.
In his native Liverpool he is chiefly associated with St Francis Xavier’s College, Woolton. He arrived at the college in 1972 to teach French and his arrival coincided with a period of significant change for the school. The Jesuits, who had run the school since its foundation, withdrew in 1974 and Brother Power was appointed headmaster. By this time, of course, he was an experienced teacher and had the requisite administrative capabilities for the headship, yet he became increasingly dissatisfied with these tasks. Rather wistfully he observed the more pastoral life of the school chaplain and thoughts of the priesthood surfaced.

In 1979 he was accepted by Archbishop Worlock as a student for the priesthood and he resigned the headship. Though he left the De La Mennais Brothers at that time, he retained a deep affection for SFX College and the Brothers. Following his ordination he regularly celebrated Mass in the college and was a frequent visitor to the Brothers’ community house. Indeed, the community at Woolton provided a tremendous support to him throughout his priestly ministry, not least in the years of his retirement and increasing infirmity.
Desmond Peter Power was born in Liverpool on 8 March 1929, the youngest of nine children born to Lawrence and Rose Power (née Graham). He was baptised at St Michael’s Church, West Derby Road, on 31 March 1929 and received his early education at St Michael’s School. Aged 11, he proceeded to St Joseph’s College at Pell Wall Hall near Market Drayton, where his brother Cyril was already a pupil, and entered the novitiate in September 1944, taking the religious name of Brother Robert. He made his final profession as a brother in 1951 and from then until 1960 he taught Religious Instruction and French, firstly at Market Drayton and then at St Mary’s College, Southampton.

In 1960 he went up to Oxford to read Modern Languages and graduated four years later with a Master of Arts degree. After a year’s tertianship in Jersey, he resumed teaching at Southampton before transferring in 1972 to St Francis Xavier’s College, Woolton. He was appointed headmaster in 1974 and remained in post until 1979, when he began training for the priesthood.
His priestly formation lasted three years; one year at the Beda College, Rome (1979–80) and two years at All Hallows, Dublin (1980–82). He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Derek Worlock at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool on 26 June 1982. Following ordination he was appointed as assistant priest at St Joseph’s, Leigh and remained there for five years until his first appointment as parish priest at St Aidan’s, Huyton in August 1987. He resigned as parish priest in 1991 and was in residence at English Martyrs, Litherland until September 1992, when he was appointed parish priest at Twelve Apostles, Leigh.

His final appointment came in September 1995 when he was made parish priest at St Paschal Baylon, Liverpool. There he spent ten happy years until his retirement in September 2005. Subsequently he lived firstly at Our Lady of the Assumption, Gateacre and then for several years in a flat close to Christ the King, Queens Drive, Liverpool. Towards the end of his life, as he became increasingly frail, he moved to Nazareth House, Crosby. He died on Friday 30 October.
His Funeral Mass was celebrated at Christ the King, Liverpool on Thursday 12 November prior to burial at Yewtree Cemetery.