Obituary of Reverend Gerard Britt

By Peter Heneghan

Father Gerard Britt, former parish priest of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Litherland, and Holy Family, Ince Blundell, died on Wednesday 20 January. He was 98 years old and in the 73rd year of his priesthood. With his death the Archdiocese of Liverpool lost its last surviving priest ordained in the 1940s.
 
James Gerard Britt was born in Liverpool on 1 April 1922, the son of James and Helen Britt (née Campion) and he was baptised shortly afterwards at St Philip Neri, Catharine Street. He attended the Notre Dame Demonstration School, Maryland Street, and St Francis Xavier’s College, Liverpool. Aged 12, he entered the seminary at St Joseph’s College, Upholland, in September 1934 and was ordained priest by Bishop Joseph Halsall, then auxiliary bishop, in the college chapel on 22 May 1948.
 
Following ordination he was appointed as assistant priest at St George’s, Maghull, and served there with Father Albert Bentley until February 1955. He then moved to the Pro-Cathedral to assist Canon Gregory Doyle, the long-serving administrator, who was to be a major influence on his priestly ministry. In October 1961 he was asked to move to St Mary’s, Blackbrook, St Helens, and he remained there until June 1967.

He then returned to his native Liverpool and became assistant to Monsignor Thomas Adamson, the former Vicar General. At St Clare’s he dedicated himself particularly to the chaplaincy work both at Sefton General Hospital and at the Lourdes Hospital. He is remembered by one of his fellow curates as being particularly helpful to a recently ordained priest, having a great sense of humour and often quoting Latin tags learned from Canon Paddy Hanrahan at Upholland.
 
In February 1975 he received his first appointment as parish priest when he was asked to succeed Father John Moynihan at Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Litherland. He dedicated himself for 15 years to the service of the people there. By now in his late 60s, he moved to the quieter parish of Holy Family, Ince Blundell, for his final parochial appointment in August 1990. He retired from active ministry in September 2001, moving initially to Formby. In 2003 he took up residence at the St Marie’s House, Southport.
 
His Funeral Mass was celebrated on Saturday 30 January at Holy Family, Ince Blundell, followed by burial in the cemetery at Ince Blundell.