Obituary of Rev Frederick Joseph Callon

Former Parish Priest of St Teresa's, Upholland and Vice Rector of St Joseph's College, Upholland, Father Frederick Callon has died at the age of 91. 

Frederick Joseph Callon was born in Flint, North Wales on 9 August 1920, the son of Frederick and Maud. His early education was at Holy Family, Cronton and the Catholic Grammar School, West Park, St Helens. He studied for the priesthood at St Joseph’s College, Upholland where he was ordained on 15 June 1946.

His first appointment, in August 1946, was a temporary one to St Alexander’s, Bootle. In 1947 he returned to Upholland and in 1957 was appointed Procurator of the College. In November 1972 he was appointed Vice Rector. In June 1975 he was appointed Assistant priest to St John’s, Wigan and in April 1976 he became Parish Priest of St Teresa, Devon Street, St Helens. He remained there until April 1980 when he moved to St Teresa, Upholland as Parish Priest, retiring in March 1991. He died peacefully on the evening of Thursday 8 September 2011. May he rest in peace.

His body was received into St Teresa’s Church, Upholland for Mass at 7.00 pm on Thursday 15 September. His Funeral Mass was celebrated at St Teresa’s at 11.00 am on Friday 16 September, followed by interment at Roby Mill.

The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, celebrated the Funeral Mass and gave the following homily.

Introduction to Mass and Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, at the Funeral Mass of Rev Frederick Callon. Friday 16 September 2011 at 11.00 am in the Church of St Teresa, Upholland.

Introduction to Mass:

Just once I stood in awe in Fred’s garden at Pex Hill in admiration of the soaring Californian Redwood with its soft bark: more like a kind, enfolding shroud. Gardens just up the road bore the stamp of Fred the botanist’s skill, patience, sensitivity, artistry. There is a gentleness, a lowliness, a humanity in the word of God from St. Paul, appointed to be read at Mass across the world today. Let that word inspire, form, guide, deepen our prayerful remembering as we hasten him on his way to the Paradise, the place of flowing water, dancing springs, fruit laden trees, songs of birds a man on a cross one dark Friday in the midst of barbaric cruelty, blood, nail, thorn, hideous insult, promised to that thief by his side.

Homily:

I was in Iran: a town surrounded by harsh, merciless desert. But within this town a place of a pool whose utterly still surface formed a perfect mirror but the pool flowed abundantly over the sides; far below the stillness I could see fish in graceful dance enjoying the powerful spring whose surging waters, came there from rugged, ridged mountains, explained the abundance of life-giving waters, life-giving: for the waters watered gardens and flowed down every street: trees weighed down with ripe pomegranates, in the golden, russet, autumn colours, reflected in the waters. And birds in a riot of song.

Our guide, making us look over to the barren, awesome desert, quietly said: We call this a paradise.

Then, for the first time, I understood the promise of our Lord on his cross: in the midst of the barbarity, cruelty, sweat, blood, tears, agony, insult of darkness: today you will be with me in Paradise: not, what I am afraid beatific vision suggested to one, a bleak lifeless, forbidding, fixated gaze for ever: but: walking with my Lord in the garden in the cool of every evening: light on leaves: redwoods: cyclamens: pomegranate: lemon: orange: oak, copper beach: duck and peacock: frog and salmon. Paradise:
‘Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of the city, also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with the twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and his servants shall worship him, they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And right shall be no more; they need no light or lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.’

Surely that is at one with the word of God that is guiding this funeral Mass today:

False religion is full of self-conceit: but true religion does bring large profits, but only to those who are content with what they have...We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it; but as long as we have food and clothing, let us be content with that…pursuing money some have given their souls any number of fatal words. Instead being grateful and ever mindful of the Marys and Joannas and Susannas the Lord God sent who have provided for priests.

Fred, botanist, thank you for embodying this word of St Paul.

‘But as a man dedicated to God, you must avoid all that. You must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith and win for yourself the eternal life to which you were called when you made your profession and spoke up for the truth in front of many witnesses.’